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(Bibliophile Jacob), 


!llntratcb tuith 





'ITH this new and last volume, the subject of which 
is not less replete with interest than that of the 
three preceding volumes, we bring to a close our 
work upon the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. 

In the beginning of the Middle Ages, at the 
commencement of the fifth century, the Barbarians 
made an inroad upon the old world ; their renewed inva- 
sions crushed out, in the course of a few years, the Greek 
and Roman civilisation ; and everywhere darkness succeeded to 
light. The religion of Jesus Christ was alone capable of resisting 
this barbarian invasion, and science and literature, together with the 
arts, disappeared from the face of the earth, taking refuge in the 
. churches and the monasteries. It was there that they were preserved 
as a sacred deposit, and it was thence that they emerged when Christianity 
had renovated pagan society. But centuries and centuries elapsed before the 
sum of human knowledge was equal to what it had been at the fall of the 
Roman empire. A new society, moreover, was needed for the new efforts of 
human intelligence as it resumed its rights. Schools and universities were 
founded under the auspices of the clergy and of the religious corporations, and 
thus science and literature were enabled to emerge from their tomb. Europe, 
amidst the tumultuous conflicts of the policy which made and unmade 
kingdoms, witnessed a general revival of scholastic zeal ; poets, orators, 


novelists, and writers increased in numbers and grew in favour; savants, 
philosophers, chemists and alchemists, mathematicians and astronbmers, 
travellers and naturalists, were awakened, so to speak, .by the life-giving 
breath of the Middle Ages; and great scientific discoveries and admirable 
works on every imaginable subject showed that the genius of modern society 
was not a whit inferior to that of antiquity. Printing was invented, and 
with that brilliant discovery, the Middle Ages, which had accomplished their 
work of social renovation, made way for the Renaissance, which scattered 
abroad in profusion the prolific and brilliant creations of Art, Science, and 

Such is the grand and imposing picture which we have attempted to bring 
before our readers in a concise form, limiting ourselves to narrative and 
description, and not plunging into the imaginary regions of theory and 
historical discussion. The impartial and truth-loving historian confines 
himself to narrative, and though his personal opinions must, as a matter of 
course, show themselves in his narrative of facts, whether given in detail or 
abridged, he should not seek to force them upon his readers by systematic 
violence and by efforts of philosophical demonstration. The history of the 
Middle Ages has, more than any other period, given rise to these excesses of 
conflicting opinions. According to some, everything relating to the Middle 
Ages is bad and blameworthy ; according to others, everything is admirable 
and good. We are not concerned to pronounce between these two extreme 
opinions ; we have written our narrative in all sincerity and truth, and our 
readers can judge for themselves. Moreover, the greater part of our work 
was done for us. With respect to this volume, as to the preceding ones, we 
have simply analyzed several chapters of our first book, "The Middle Ages 
and the Renaissance," completing, and in some cases amending, the collective 
work of our former collaborateurs, and adding at the same time to this work, 
which is now deservedly appreciated, the chapters which were wanting, and 
the absence of which showed that it was imperfect. 

It is none the less a high honour for us to have had the planning of this 
work, which is unfortunately left incomplete, and to have superintended the 
execution of a literary enterprise which obtained the most honourable encou- 
ragement, and almost unanimous praise. Our dear friend Ferdinand Sere, 
who died while engaged upon it, had struck the right vein with regard to the 
illustration of this magnificent book, in which were to be reproduced so many 


unpublished records of the art of drawing. But we have fallen upon evil 
times, and after expending much courage and perseverance, we had to stop 
before we had completed our programme, and terminate a work upon which 
we had spent so many years of labour. Thus " The Middle Ages and the 
Renaissance " had only five volumes instead of six. 

I have written an absolutely new work, availing myself, however, of the 
original work, which remains as it was before. The four volumes of which 
the new work now consists are, at the same time, less extensive and more 
complete than the five volumes of the first one. Very few of the wood 
engravings which illustrate these four volumes appeared in the first work. 

With regard to the text, in compiling which I have made free use of the 
works of my former collaborateurs (so few of whom, alas ! are alive to receive 
my thanks), I have not scrupled to avail myself of the excellent works which 
have appeared since the publication of the first " Middle Ages, " and which 
have enabled me to recast altogether certain parts of this book. Thus, to 
speak only of the present volume, I have revised the chapters on Philosophy 
and Universities, after the valuable treatises on philosophy and history by 
M. Ch. Jourdain ; the chapter on Romances, after the latest researches of 
M. Paulin Paris and the works of MM. Gaston Paris and Leon Gautier ; and 
the chapter on Popular Songs, after the report of M. Ampere to the Committee 
of the Learned Societies. If I have succeeded in bringing into my work some 
of the fresh information which I have derived in abundance from my con- 
temporaries, the credit lies with them. But it must not be forgotten that 
each of my chapters forms a sort of monograph, and that this monograph has 
often been made the subject of one, or even of several special treatises. 

I could only make a succinct, and often incomplete, summary in compiling 
this book, which comprises so many different subjects ; but I have at all events 
conformed as nearly as possible to the instructions of the late M. Firmin- 
Didot, who urged me to " leave to others the display of profound and minute 
erudition ; content yourself with being an ingenious, intelligent, and, if 
possible, an agreeable interpreter ; try to make yourself read and under- 
stood by everybody. The greatest successes are achieved less by savants than 
by vulgarisers." 


(Bibliophile Jacob). 



Legend of the foundation of the Paris University by Charlemagne. The Schools of the 
Notre-Daine Cloisters. Origin of the name University. The organization of the 
University. The four Nations and the four Faculties. The Rector and the other 
officers of the University. The great and the little messengers. Privileges of the 
University. Its power and its decadence. Its political role. Creation of provincial 
Universities. Great Schools of the Rue du Fouarre. The Paris Colleges. Turbu- 
lence of the Students. Their Games. Their Festivals. The Lendit Fair. Foreign 



Annihilation, of the Pagan Philosophy. New Christian Philosophy. Martianus Capella. 
Boethius and Cassiodorus. Isidore of Seville. Bede, Alcuin, and Raban Maurus. 
John Scotus Erigcna. Origin of Scholasticism. Gerbert. Realism and Nomi- 
nalism. Beranger of Tours. Roscelin and St. Anselm. William of Chumpeaux and 
AbelarJ. Gilbert de la Porree and St. Bernard. Amaury de Bene. Albertus 
Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas. The Franciscans and the Dominicans. William 
of Ockham. Decadence of Scho'asticism. Platonists and Aristotelians. The 
[Philosophy of the Renaissance. The Lutheran Schools. P. Ramus. Montaigne. 


Ancient Systems of the Planetary World. Ptolemy and Aristarchus of Samoa. 
Boethius, Pappus, and Gerbert. Suhools of Bagdad. Mathematical School in Spain, 
Italy, England, and France. Astronomical Researches of the Arabs. Roger Bacon 
and Master Pierre. Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas. Progress of 
Mathematics. Popes and Kings protectors of the Exact Sciences. The King of 
Hungary, Matthias Corvinus. Principal Works composed in the Fifteenth Century. 
Pic Mirandola. Peter Ramus. Tycho Brahe and Copernicus. 


Natural Sciences in Antiquity. Their Decadence in the Middle Ages. Rural Economy 
in the time of Charlemagne. Tlie Monk Strabus. Botanical Gardens. Botany aided 
by Medicine. Hildegnrde, Abbess of Bingen. Peter of Crescentiis. Vincent of 



Beauvais. Fables and Popular Errors. Jean Dondi. Bartholomew Glanvil. 
Naturalist Travellers. Aristotle and Pliny restored to honour. Gardens in the 
Sixteenth Century. The Conquests of Science in Travel. Bernard Palissy. 
G. Agricola. Conrad Gesner. Methods of Botany. Painters and Engravers of 
Natural History. 


Decline of Medicine after the death of Hippocrates. The School of Galen. The School 
of Alexandria. Talismans and Orisons against Illness. Monastic Medicine. Female 
Doctors. The Arab Schools. The Schools of Naples, Monte Casino, and Salerno. 
The Hospitallers. The School of Cordova.' Epidemics coming from the East.' The 
appearance of Military Surgery. The Schools of Montpellier and Paris. Lanfranc as 
upholder of Surgery. College of St. Cosmo at Paris. Guy de Chauliac. Rivalry of 
the Surgeons and the Barbers. Medical Police. The Occult Sciences in Medicine. 
Kivalry of the Surgeons and the Doctors. The Doctors in the Sixteenth Century. 
Andrew Vesalius. Ambroise Pare. 


Diocletian burns the Books of Chemistry. Huroun Al-Raschid protects the Sacred Art. 
Geber, one of the first Chemists. Rhazes. Chemistry in honour amongst the 
Saracens. Avicenna, Serapion, Mesue. Albucasis and Averroes. Morienus the 
Solitary. Albertus Magnus and Gerbert. Vincent of Beauvais. Raymond Lulli. 
The Lullists, or Dreamers. Arnauld de Villeneuve. Roger Bacon. Invention of 
Spectacles.- Alchemy in the Fifteenth Century.. J. B. Porta, the Italian. Origin 
of the Rosicrucians. Paracelsus. George Agricola. Conrad Gesner. Cornelius 
Agrippa. The Story of Nicholas Flamel. Alchemy engenders Metallurgy. 

THE OCCULT SCIENCES . . . ' . 200 

The Origin of Magic. The Savants and Philosophers reputed to be Magicians. 
Different Forms of Occult Sciences. Oneiromancy. Oneirocritics and Diviners. 
Necromancy. Practices of the Necromancers. Astrology. Celebrated Astrologers. 
Chiromancy. Aeromancy and other kinds of Divination. The Angelic Art and 
the Notorious Art. The Spells of the Saints. Magic. The Evocation of Good and 
Evil Genii. Pacts with Demons. Celebrated Magicians. Formula and Circles. 
Incense and Perfumes. Talismans and Images. The tormenting of Wax Images. 
The Sagittarii. The Evil Eye. Magic Alchemy. Cabalism. The Fairies, Elfs, 
and Spirits. The "Were-wolves. The Sabbath. A Trial for Sorcery. 


Superstitions derived from Paganism. Saturnalia of the Ancients. Festival of the 
Barbatorii. Ft stival of the Deacons. The Liberty of December, or the Fools' Feast. 
Festival of the Ass. The Sens Ritual. Feast of the Innocents. The Moneys of 
the Innocents and the Fools. Brotherhood of the Mire Sotte.The Mere Folk of 
Dijon. The Serpent, or the Devil. Purgatory of St. Patrick. The Wandering Jew. 
The Antichrist and the End of the World. The Prophecies of the Sibyls, of 

Merlin, and of Nostradamus. Dreams and Visions. Spectres and Apparitions. 

Prodigies. Talismans. 




Latin and Greek Geographers. Measurement of the Roman World. Voyages of Hip- 
palus and Diogenes. Marinus of Tyre, Pomponius Mela, and Ptolemy. Coloured 
and Figurative Itineraries. Barbarian Invasions. Stephen of Byzantium. Geogra- 
phical Ignorance from the Sixth to the Tenth Century. Charlemagne and Albertus 
Magnus. Dicuil. Geography amongst the Arabs. Master Peter and Roger Bacon. L - 
Vincent of Beauvais. Asiatic Travellers in the Thirteenth Century. Portuguese 
Navigation. The Planisphere of Fra Mauro. First Editions of Ptolemy. Maritime 
VjA"~Expeditions in the Fifteenth Century. Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. 
Spanish, Dutch, and FrenchJTravellers, &c., in the Sixteenth Century. 


The fabled Origin of Armorial Bearings. Heraldic Science during the Feudal Period. 
The First Armorial Bearings in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. The Meaning 
of the Colours and Divisions on the Shield. Kings of Arms and Heralds. Heraldic 
Figures. Quadrupeds, Birds, Fishes. Plants, Flowers, Fruits. The Legend of the 
Fleur-de-lis. Emblematic Arms. Prevalence of Armorial Bearings in the Thirteenth 
Century. Helmets and 'Crests. Mottoes and Emblems. Traders' Sign-boards. 
Usurpers of Armorial Bearings. Decadence of the Science of Heraldry. 


Antiquity of Proverbs amongst all Nations. Proverbs in the Middle Ages. Solomon and 
Marcoul. The Philosophers' Proverbs. Rural and Vulgar Proverbs. Guillaume de 
Tignonville. Proverb^ of the Villeins. " Dit de 1'Apostoile." Historical Proverbs. 
Proverbs in Works of Prose and Verse. French Proverbs in the Sixteenth Century. 
Foreign Proverbs. The Use of Proverbs. Constable de Bourbon's Collection of 


The Origin of Languages. Decadence of the Latin Language. The Celtic and Teutonic 
Languages. The Rustic Language. Common Neo-Latin Dialects. First Evidences 
of the French Language. The Oath of Louis the German in 842. Laws of William 
the Conqueror. The Oc and Oil Languages. Poem of Boethius. The " Chanson de 
Roland." Fabliaux. The "Romance of the Rose." Villehardonin. The Sire de 
Joinville. Froissart. Influence of Flemish Writers. Antoine de la Sale. The 
"Cent Nouvelles nouvelles" and Villon. Hellenism and Italianism. Clement 
Marot and Rabelais. Ronsard, Montaigne, and Malherbe. 


Origin of the Name Romance. Greek and Latin Romances. The Discussion of the 
Savants as to the first French Romances. These Romances were the Emanation of 
Popular Songs and Latin Chronicles. Ancient Romances in Prose and Rhyme. The 
Three Materes (Metres) of the Chansont de Gette. Their Classification. Manuscripts 
of the Jugglers. Assemblies and Troin-eurt. The " Chanson de Roland." Progress 
of Romancerie (Ballad Songs) during the Crusades. Breton Romances. Tristan. 
Launcelot. Merlin. The Holy Grail. Decadence of Romances in the Fourteenth 
Century. Remodelling of the Early Romances.^^he Short Romances of the Fif- 
teenth Century. Romance Abroad. The "Amadis." 





POPULAR SONGS . . . . : 

Definition and Classification of Popular Song. Songs of the Germans, the Gauls, the 
Goths, and the Franks. They are collected by order of Charlemagne. Vestiges of 
the most Ancient Songs. The Historical Songs of France- down to the Sixteenth 
Century. Romanesque Songs. Religious Songs. The Christmas Carols and the 
Canticles. Legendary Songs. Domestic Songs. The Music of the Popular Songs. 
Provincial Songs. The Songs of Germany. The Minnesingers and the Meister- 
singers. The Songs of England, of Scotland, and of Northern Countries. The Songs 
of Greece, of Italy, and of Spain. 


i Decadence of Latin Poetry. Origins of Vulgar Poetry. Troubadours, Trouveres, and 
Jugglers. Rutebeuf. Thibaud of Navarre and his School. Marie de France. 
" Romance of the Renard." The G'uyot Bible." The Romance of the Rose." The 
Minnesingers. Dante. " The Romancero." The Meistersingers. Petrarch. 
English Poets ; Chaucer. Eustache Deschamps, Alain Chartier, Charles d'Orleans, 
Villon. Chambers of Rhetoric. Poets of the Court of Burgundy. Modern Latin 
Poetry. The Poems of Chivalry in Italy. Clement Marot and his School. The 
Epic Poems ; Tasso, Camoens. Poets of Germany and of the Northern Countries. 
Ronsard and his School. Poetry under, the Valois Kings. 


First Historians of the Church. The Last Latin and Greek Historians. Latin 
Chronicles: Marius, Cassiodorus, Jornandes. Gregory of Tours. Fredegaire. 
Monastic Chronicles. Chronicles from the Eighth to the Eleventh Century. 
Historians of the Crusades. Historians of Foreign Countries. Latin Chronicles of 
the Abbey of St. Denis. Chronicles in- Rhyme. Early French Chronicles. Ville- 
hardouin. The Sire de Joinville. Chronicles of St. Denis. Froissart. Monstrelet. 
Chastellain. French Translations of the Ancient Historians. Library of Charles V. 
Chroniclers of the Fifteenth Century. Historians of the Court of Burgundy. 
Private Chronicles and Lives of Illustrious Men. Personal Memoirs. Histories of 
France in the Sixteenth Century. 

THE DRAMA . 488 

Disappearance of the Ancient Theatre. First Essays of the Christian Theatre. Pious 
Representations in the Churches. The Latin Drama of Hfosvitha. The Mystery of 
Adam. The Great Mysteries. Progress of the Theatre in Europe. Brothers of the 
Passion in Paris. Public Representations. The Mystery of St. Louis. Comedy 
since the Thirteenth Century. Jean de la Halle. The Farce de Pathelin. The 
Bazoche. The Eufants sans Souci. The Theatre in Spain and in Italy. Creation of 
the Literary Theatre, in the Sixteenth Century, in France. 


The Oratorical Genius of the Gauls. The Origin of the French Bar. Christian Oratory 
in the First Centuries. Gallo-Roman Oratory. Preachers and Missionaries. 
Orators of the Crusades. St. Bernard and St. Dominic>jCl > leadings at the Bar 
under Louis XL Political Oratory under Charles VI. Popular Preachers. Orators 
of the Reformation. Orators of the League. Parliamentary Harangues. Oratory 
in the States-General. Military Oratory. 



Abduction of Helen, The 515 

Alchemist, The, sifter Vriese 229 

,, German 185 

Laboratory of an 197 

Alexander doing Battle with the Beast with 

three Horna 278 

doing Battle with White Lions 279 
,, engaged in Combat with Men 

having Horses' Heads 204 

engaged in Combat with Pigs. . 207 

fighting the Dragons 11"), 117 

Alfonso X., the Wise, King of Castile .... 466 

Antichrist, Ueign of 257 

Apocalypse, Miniature from a Commentary 

upon the 224, -J.jii 

Apostle of Christianity, Preaching of an . . 525 

Arc with Double Compartment 99 

Arms of Alfonso X., King of Castile 306 

Anne of Brittany 318 

,, Catherine of A rragon 309 

Emanuel, King of Portugal 305 

France, Fifteenth Century 323 




Arms of Godfrey do Bouillon 307 

,, Henry V. of England joined to 

those of Catherine do Valois ... 487 

Joan of Arc 310 

John II., King of France 305 

Martin I., King of Arragon ..... 305 

Mary Tudor, Queen of England... 315 

Orsini Family 311 

Paul III '. . 808 

,, Piccolomini Family 305 

Kichard Coeur de-Lion 305 

Robert of Anjou, King of Naples . . 306 

William, Prince of Orange 306 

Astronomer and Cosmographist, German . . 98 

with Magic Figures 92 

Astronomy, A Lesson in 87 

with the Three Fates .209 

Author, The, of the Poem entitled " Le 

Debat de la Noire et de la Tannee" 439 

Bacon, the Alchemist 183 

Ballad Singer accompanying himself upon 

the Violin 411 

Banner of Amiens Butchers ' 320 

Apothecaries of Caen 158 

Apothecaries of St. LG 158 

Bethune Tailors 320 

Bordeaux Upholsterers '. 320 

Calais Innkeepers 320 

,, Corporation of Apothecaiies in 

the Mayenne 173 

,, Corporation of Physicians at 

Amiens ." 167 

Corporation of Physicians in the 

Mayenne 167 

Corporation of Physicians at Vire 167 

Corporation of Surgeons at Caen 167 
Corporation of Surgeons at Le 

Mans 167 

.. Corporation of Surgeons at 

Saintes 167 

,, Douai Shoemakers 321 

Lyons Tinmen 321 

Paris Founders .. .. 321 

Pin and Needle Makers 321 

St. Lo Blacksmiths 321 

St. Lo Dyers 320 

St. Omer Cobblers 320 

Tours Slaters 321 

Banners and Coate-of-Arms displayed from 

the Heralds' Lodge 312 

Bas-relief in the Church of St. Julian the 

Poor 23 

Battle of Beggars and Peasants 75 

Beadles of the University of Pont-a- 

Mousson 1(33 

Betrothal Interview between the Arclidukr 

Maximilian and Mary of Burgundy 473 

Binding of Durand's " Rational*.;," Frag- 
ment of a : 

Boethius takes Counsel of Dame Philosophy 
Border of a Page in Manuscript of the 

Fifteenth Century 

Bourbon, Due de, armed Cap-a-pie 

Brunehaut superintending the making of 
the Seven Roads which led from the City 

of Bavay 

Buffoon holding the Bauble 

playing the Bagpipe 

Burgundy Cross, Origin of the 

Calendar of a " Book of Hours," Miniature 

from the 

" Cancionero," The, of Juan Alfonso de 


Carol in Burgundy Patois, with Music .... 

Casting a Bell 

Castle of Loves, The 

Cathedral of Cordova 

Celtic Monument 

Centaur, The 

Chariot of the Mere Folle 

Charlatan performing an Operation 

Charlemagne, Conquest of Jerusalem by . . 

,, Coronation of 

Vision of 

Charles VII. entering Rouen 

setting out to besiege the Town 

of Harfleur 

Vigiles de 467, 

Chartier, Alain, comforted by Hope 

Chest of Carved Wood of the Fourteenth 

Century ; 

" Chevalier Delibere," Miniature from 

the 393, 509, 

Christina de Pisan being urged to write a 

Book of Ethics 

" City of God," Miniature of the 

Clovis, Equestrian Statue of 

Comb made of Carved Wood, of the Fif- 
teenth Century 

Compiler, A 

Conflagration of the Bel-Acceuil Prison . . 

Copyist writing upon Vellum 

Counter-Seal of the English Nation 

Faculty of Medicine, 


French Nation 

Normandy Nation .... 

Picardy Nation 

Rheims University. ... 

,, University of Paris . . 

Court Jester, A 

Cure through the Intercession of a Healing 


I lame Philosophy 

















Dante's " Divina Commcdia," Fragmant of 358 

Death presiding over Battles 486 

Device of Catherine de' Medicis '.-,.. 317 

Charles IX., King of France..:. 316 

Charles V 316 

Flemish Gueux 33? 

Francois I., King of France .... 332 

Henry III., King of France 316 

Henry VII., King of England . . 316 
Jean sans Peur, Duke of Bur- 
gundy 337 

LeoX ; 316 

Louis XII., King of France '332 

Louis, Duke of Orleans (H06) . . 337 

Devil, Angel enchaining the . . 222 

The, attempting to seize a Magician . 223 

Discovery of San Domingo 289 

Doctor Death 153 

,, Flemish, haranguing the People .. 639 

Doctor's House, Interior of a 157 

Dragons 221 

Drawings of Proverbs, Adages', &c 342, 343 

Dream of Childeric . 261 

Druids .' 202 

Envoys rrum ;;.,, S-""l>m 471 

Equatorial Rings .,. ." 101 

Esua, the God of Nature 107 

Fantastic Forms and seen in the 

Sky in the Sixteenth Century 217 

farce de Patkelin, Wood Engravings of the 608 

First Mksionary Apostles, Preaching of the 629 

Fleet of Maximus, Arrival at Cologne of the 273 

Fresco, Fragment of, by Simone Memmi . . 60 
Furnace, Retorts, Slills, and Distillery 

Apparatus 193 195 

Galley of the Sixteenth Century 293 

Gallic Vulcan, The 175 

Gargouille, The 252 

Geber, The Alchemist 178 

" Genealogy of the Kings of France and 

of England," Fragment of the 475 

Genethliac, or Astrological Horoscope .... 213 

God creating the World by Compass 109 

"Grainmaire Latine," by ./Elius Donatus, 

Specimen of a Page of the 349 

Gregory the Great sending Missionaries to 

England 627 

Hermes, The Alchemist 176 

Horace's Poems 422 

Hotel-Dieu, A Ward in the 148 

Hour of Death, The 64 

Initial designed by Pen 3 

Instrument of Mathematical Precision for 

designing Objects in Perspective 97 

Instruments of Mathematical Precision for 
executing Portraits .................. 96 

Italian Doctors ........................ 65 

Jerusalem, Coronation of Charlemagne in 
the City of .......................... 373 

Joseph of Arimathea, Death of .......... 387 

Joshua, King David, and Judas Macca- 

.............................. 366 

Khan of Tartary, Coronation of the ...... 465 

King of Anna .......................... 301 

Knight, Arming of a .................... 389 

Languages, The Institution of .......... 348 

Launcelot and Guinivere ................ 385 

Le Feron presenting a Work to King 

Henry II ........................... 319 

Leper House .......................... 146 

Lequeux, Jean, Messenger in the Diocese of 

Luon ................................ 14 

Leyden University, External View of .... 38 

Lines on Left Hand, and their Horoscopic 

Denominations ...................... 215 

" Livre de Faits d'Armes et de Chevalerie," 

Miniatures from the .............. 483, 484 

Lulli, Raymond, The Alchemist .......... 1 80 

Mandeville, John de, taking leave of King 

Edwardlll ......................... 285 

Man-dog, Man-wolf, Man-bull, and Man- 

pig ................................ 233 

Map of Gaul, Fragment of .............. 271 

Island of Sardinia .............. 269 

Island of Taprobana ............ 287 

Roman World .................. 267 

Marine World, The .................... 119 

Mark, King, stabbing Tristan ............ 383 

Marriage of a Young Man and an Old 

Woman ............................ 226 

Mathematician Monks .................. 81 

Melusine, The Fay .................... 263 

Merlin, transformed into a Student, meets 

the Fairy Viviana .................... 386 

Metals, Colours, and Furs interpreted by 

the Engravers of the Middle Ages ...... 297 

Miner ................................ 182 

Minnesingers .......................... 416 

Mint of the Fifteenth Century .......... 186 

Officerofthe .................... 187 

Monks chanting the Litanies for the Dead. . 264 

engaged in Agriculture .......... 112 

Monsters born from the Deluge .......... 251 

Morienus, The Alchemist ................ 198 

Mosque of Cordova .................... 433 

Mountebank Seller of Drugs, The Stage 

ofa ................................ SH 

Musicians, German ................... 417 




Narcissus at the Fountain .............. 356 

Natural Sciences, The, in the Presence of 

Philosophy .......................... 73 

Navigators who have mistaken a "Whale's 

Back for an Island .................. ' 277 

Noah's Ark ............................ ' HI 

Old-maid Witch ........................ ' 231 

Operator, An .......................... 164 

Order of St. Dominic, The Glories of the . . 535 

Paracelsus, The Alchemist .............. 191 

Pegasus .............................. 435 

Perseus and Andromeda ................ 83 

Personification of Music, The ............ 413 

Philip the Good intrusts the Education of 

his Son to Georges Chastelain ...... . . . . 401 

Phoenix rising from his Ashes ............ 133 

Physician, The ...................... 139, 155 

Plan of Clermont en Beauvaisis .......... 281 

Planetary Systems, The ................ 79 

Plenary Court of Dame Justice .......... 52 

Poem by Wolfram of Eschenbach, Fragment 
of, with the Notation of the Thirteenth 

Century ...... . ...................... 431 

Poetical and Musical Congress at Wartburg 

in 1207 .............................. 429 

Poetry and Music ...................... 397 

Portraits : 

Abbatia, Bernard ...... .- ........... 104 

Ariosto ............................ 447 

Baif .............................. 452 

Claude of France ......... ........ 170 

Clement IV ....................... 58 

Commines, Philippe de .............. 485 

Cujas, J ........................... 548 

Daurat, J ......................... 452 

Despence, Claude .................. 544 

Du Bellay ........................ 452 

Dumesnil, B ....................... 546 

Dumoulin, C ....................... 547 

Erasmus .......................... 74 

Faye, J ........................... 546 

Froissart ........................... 478 

Gamier, Eobert .................... 518 

Gregory IX ....................... 533 

Henri III ........ ................. 549 

Honorius III ....................... 532 

Hospital, M. de 1' .................. 548 

Innocent IV ....................... 159 

Jodelle .................. .......... 452 

Lemaitre, G ....................... 547 

Lorraine, Cardinal de .............. 544 

Marguerite of Valois ................ 451 

Marot, Clement .................... 510 

Pibrac ............................ 546 

Pithou ............................ 548 

Portraits : 

Ponthus de Thyard 453 

Eemy Belleau 452 

Eonsard 452 

S.innazar 445 

Savonarola 541 

Seguier, P 547 

Sixtus Quintus 545 

Tycho Brahe 103 

Prague University, Eector of the 35 

Precious Metals, The Extraction of the . . 188 

Foundry of 189 

Prince of Darkness 219 

Printers' Marks : 

Berton, Barthelemy 130 

Bonhomme, Mace 259 

Brie, Jehan de 341 

Estienne, Charles 132 

Fezandat, Michel 344 

Le Dru, Pierre 511 

Morrhy, Gerard . . . , 264 

St. Denis, Jehan 102 

Tory, Geoffrey 362 

Verard, Antoine 395 

Procession of the Boeuf Gras 239 

" Prose of the Ass," plain 244 

set to Music 245 

Provost of Paris, Servants of the, apologizing 3 1 

Ptolemy's System 94 

Quadrant, Small 99 

Reception of a Doctor , 17 

Eepreseutative Characters of the Ancient 

Theatre, from Terence 489491, 493, 495 

Riddle taken from the " Heures de Nostre- 

dame " 341 

River Fishing 123 

Robert, King, composing Sequences and 

Responses in Latin 353 

Eobert le Diable forced to declare his 

Identity 499 

Sacred Oratory 537 

St. Augustine 59 

St. Bonaventure , 61 

St. Francis of Assisi talking to the Birds . . 113 
St. Germain des Pres and the Pre aux-Clercs 63 
St. James the Elder combating the Enchant- 
ments of a Magician 235 

St. Jerome and two Cardinals 521 

St. Louis, King of France, going to Matins 19 

St. Mark Library, The, Venice 371 

St. Patrick, The Purgatory of 253 

St. Peter as Pope, Imaginary Election of. . 367 

School, Interior of a 24 

,, of Mendicant Monks, A 8 

Schoolmaster, The, from the Dame Macabre 28 



Schoolmaster, The, after a Drawing- by 

Soquand 29 

Sea-Dog, The .-. . 120 

Soul of Aix University 7 

Balliol College 37 

Bourges University 7 

English Nation 4 

Faculty of Law, Prague 76 

Faculty of Medicine, Paris 160 

Faculty of Theology, Paris 66 

Faculty of Theology, Prague 76 

Four Nations, or Faculty of 

Arts ' 10 

French Nation 4 

Normandy Nation 6 

Picardy Nation 6 

Rheims University 6 

,, Town of Dunwich 275 

University of Cambridge 37 

,, University of Oxford 37 

University of Prague ._ 37 

Sermon upon the Vanity of Human 

Things , . .' 643 

" Serventois " of the Trouveur; Queues of 

Bethune, with Music , 427 

Seven Saints of Brittany, The 469 

Sextant, Astronomical ...'..; 101 

Sheep-shearing 121 

Shepherds celebrating the Birth of the 

Messiah .'.' 407 

Shoemaker' and his Customer 338 

fitting a Shoe 338 

Shops in an Apothecary's Street 161 

Signature at Foot of Autograph Letter of 

Christopher Columbus 291 

Siren, Token of Gerard Morrhy 264 

Solomon and Marcoul 327 

Song of the Crusaders, set to Music 400 

,, Druidic Epoch, A, Words and 

Music 398 

Thibaud, Count of Champagne, 

with Music 428 

Troubadour, with Music 424 

Stuff of the Dijon Infantry in 1482 249 

Stained Glass : 

Battle of Honcevaux and Death of 

Roland 375 

Legend of St. Nicholas 33 

Stork its own Doctor, The 138 

Surgeon, German 165 

Swiss Courier 13 

Table Ornament 129 

Terms of Heraldry. Partitions of the 

Shield 302, 303 

Tower of Babel, Construction of the 347 

Tree of Beings and Substances 61 

Tristan at the Chase 381 

" Trois Morts et des Trois Vifs," Legend of 

the 437 

Trouveur accompanying himself upon the 

Violin 425 

French 420 

University Beadle 14 

of Paris, Rector and Doctor of 

the 11 

of Pont-a-Mousson, Bachelors 

of the 69 

Teaching, Allegorical Composi- 
tion representing 623 

Vandeuil, Master Jean de, Proctor of the 

Picardy Nation 12 

Vanity of Human Things, The 443 

Vegetable Kingdom, The 131 

Venetian Gondola 419 

Vesalius, Andrew 172 

" Vigiles du Roi Charles VII.," Miniature 

from the 550 

Vivien, Count, dedicating a Bible to Charles 

theBold 46 

Vow of the first Companions of St. Igna- 
tius 294 

Weeping-tree 266 

Wheel of Fortune 43 

Wolf cheating the Donkey, The 329 







Legend of the foundation of fhe Paris University by Charlemagne. The Schools of the Nolre- 
I)ame Cloisters. Origin of the name Unieeriity. The organization of the University. The 
" four Nations and the four Faculties. The Rector and the other officers of the University. 
The great and the' lifctle messengers. Privileges of the University. Its power and its 
decadence. Its political role. Creation of provincial Universiliea. Great Schools of the 
Rue du Fouarre. TJie Paris Colleges. Turbulence of the Students. Their Games. 
Their Festivals. The I>ndit Fair. Foreign Universities. 

[HE schools of Marseilles, Autun, Naibonne, 
Lyons, Bordeaux, and Toulouse, which, 
under the Roman dominion, had, thanks to 
the names of their famous professors and 
pupils, such as the poets Petronius and 
Ausonius, Trogus Pompeius the historian, 
the orators Salvian and Cesareus, &c., re- 
flected so much credit upon Gaul, hud, in 
the sixth century of the Christian era, 
ceased to be more than a mere souvenir. 
The reign of Dagobert (G-'JH) witnessed 
the extinction of the ancient genius of the 
land. The clergy, who remained the sole depositaries of human knowledge, had 
allowed themselves l<> be enveloped, in their turn, in the gloom of ignorance, 
when Charlemagne set to work to bring about a sort of intellectual regenera- 
tion throughout his vast empire. By bis orders the Anglo-Saxon monk 



Alcuiii and some learned foreign clerks were summoned to the court. It was 
under their supervision that he created within the. walls of his own palace an 
academy, to which he made a point of belonging, and at the sittings of which 
he was sometimes present. The mode of writing, which had become illegible, 
was remodelled ; the Latin tongue, which had been replaced by barbaric 
idioms, resumed its place ; the ancient manuscripts, which were lying in the 
monasteries, were revised and recopied with great care ; and thus the teach- 
ing of sciences and letters began to flourish anew in the ecclesiastical schools. 

So it was that, long after the death of the great Emperor, the literary 
renaissance which was attributed, to him, and which was perpetuated by the 
legends of the time, also acquired for him the title of patron and founder of 
the University : even to the present day the forehead of St. Charlemagne 
remains crowned with the literary aureole conferred upon him by the grati- 
tude of our ancestors. 

" In those days," says Nicholas Gilles, a chronicler of the fifteenth cen- 
tury, paraphrasing a passage from the Carlovingian chronicle of the Monk 
of St. Gall, "there arrived in France from Ireland two Scotch monks of 
great erudition, and very saintly men. They preached and proclaimed in the 
cities and in the fields that they had knowledge to sell, and whoso wished to 
purchase it came to them. This' was told to the Emperor Charlemagne, who 
had them brought before him, and asked them if it was true that they had 
knowledge to sell, to which they replied that they had it by the grace of 
God, and that they had come to France to lend it and to teach it to all who 
wished to learn. The Emperor asked them what remuneration they expected, 
and they replied that they asked for nothing more than a fitting place to 
teach in, and subsistence for their bodies. When- the Emperor heard this he 
was very joyful, and retained them with him until he had to set out for the 
war. He then ordered that one of them, Clement, should remain in Paris, 
that children of all ranks, the most intelligent that could be found, should be 
sent to him, and provided him with proper schools to teach in, and ordered 
that their wants should be ministered to, and gave them great privileges, 
rights, and liberties ; and therefrom came the first institution of the body of 
the University of Paris, which was at Rome, whither it had been transferred 
from Athens." 

Such are the facts which were generally taken as undeniable for more than 
eight centuries; that is to say, until the learned Etienne Pasquier (1564), 


defending with ardour, but 'at the same time with impartiality, the am -it 'in 
privileges of the University of Paris, had proved, ill concert with Loisel the 
advocate nnd Andre Duchesne the historian, iliat tlicv glorious traditions had 
no real foundation. It must be said, v however, that such distinguished savants 
as Du Cangc, Mabillon, and G'revier did their best to revive the legendary 
origin of the University; but, all questions of patriotism apart, it became 
clear that the academic or scholastic establishments of Charlemagne; like 

Fig. 1.- Grand Initial, design? d by pen (end of Fifteenth Century), representing Typea of 
Students, in one of the Manuscript Registers of the German Nation. 

University Archives. 

many other creations of his universal genius, did not survive the indomitable 
will of their founder, and that the famous schools of Paris came into exist- 
ence and developed themselves under the immediate influence of the Church. 
The etymology of the word itiurrrsifi/ must be sought in the Latin word 
Hi'iri'rxifiis, which, in the Middle Ages, signified a reunion or category of 
persons. Thus, in the acts and ordinances published in the name of the 
schools of Paris, the form generally employed was, "Noverit universitas 


vestra ; " and this formula, which applied to all the protocols, also figured at 
the heading of all the diplomas issued by the masters and addressed to the 
students. It is easy to understand that the word inticersitft*, gradually 

Fig. 2. Seal of the French Nation ' 
(Fourteenth Century). 

Fig. 4. Seal of the English Nation 
(Fourteenth Century). 

Fig. 3. Counter-Seal of the French Nation 

(Fourteenth Century). 

Fig. 5. Counter-Seal of the English Nation 
(Fourteenth Century). 

From the Sigillographic Collection in. the National Archives. 

assuming a special or limited meaning, was finally taken to mean the 
University or whole body of students, then the establishment itself to which 
these students belonged, and, lastly, the large quarter of the town which was 
almost exclusively reserved for them on the left bank of the Seine. 

I '.\7 / V/A'.v/ //A'. v, .s t '//' ><>/ V Sn 'DENTS. 

The annals of the I'nivorsity of Paris cannot, however, be traced further 
buck than 1o th.- l.-rtmvs of l.'otor Abelard, that great and popular l.-arh.-r 

Fig. 6. Seal of the Normandy" Nation 
(Fo'uiteenth Century). 

Fig. 8.- Seal of the Picardy Nation 
(Fourteenth Century). 

Via 9. Counter-Seal of the Picardy 
Fie. 7. Counter-Seal ot the Normandy _ .,,, 

v Nation (Fourteenth Centur) ). 

Nation (Fourteenth Century). 

From the Sigillographic Collection in the National Archives. 

who has left so deep an impression behind him. When the young and 
unfortunate profe-OT ,nne to Paris for the first time (1057) to complete h 
studies, the school was still so to speak, beneath the wing of the ( 


was in the cloisters of Notre-Dame that those gifted masters, William of 
Champeaux and Anselm of Laon, whose lessons he at first received, but 
both of whom he eventually surpassed, taught their pupils. Fifty years 
later there came the dawn of the University, for Henry II., King of England, 
proposed to submit the matters in dispute between himself and Thomas 
a Becket to the arbitrament of the schools of the various nr/fioK studying at 
Paris. This proof of esteem for the scholars of Paris says a great deal for 

Fig. 10. Seal of the Rheims University (1568). 

From the Sigillographic Collection in the National Archives. 

Fig. 11. Counter-Seal of the 
Rheims University (1568). 

the reputation which the cosmopolitan University must have enjoyed at that 
period, not only in France, but throughout Europe. In the year 1200 a 
charter from Philip Augustus, dated Bethesy, in which may be discovered 
almost the foundation of the privileges of the University, shows us this 
institution being carried on under a head whose immunity from the inter- 
ference of the ordinary law is solemnly guaranteed, together with that of all 
its members. Lastly, in 1260, the University body stands out fully organized, 
and having attained its complete development. 

(\\/r/-:fti>/TJi-:s. SCHOOLS, STI'J>I-:.\/S. 

It is necessary to give a summary sketch of this ingenious and complex 
organization, as it may be gathered from the researches of Yallet do Viriville 
and those of the learned M. Charles Joimluin, the last historian of the 
I" Diversity of Paris. 

From the very beginning a natural division established itself between the 
young men whom the fame of the great Parisian school attracted thither 
from all parts of Christendom. The students grouped themselves into nations, 

Fig. 12. Seal of the Aix University 
in 1'rovence (Sixteenth Century). 

Fig 13. Great Seal of the Bourges University 
(Fifteenth Century). 

From the Sigillograpliic Collection in tho National Archives. 

and these nations having adopted, by analogy of language, interests, and 
sympathy, a more regular form, there were but four nations : that of France 
(Figs. 2 and 3), that of England (Figs. 4 and 5), that of Normandy (Figs. 6 
and 7), and that of Picardy (Figs. 8 and 9). The French nation consisted of 
live tribes, which included the bishoprics or metropolitan provinces of Paris, 
Beu, Rheims, and Bourges (Figs. 10 to 13), and all the south of Europe, 
so that a Spaniard or an Italian, who came to study at Paris, was comprised in 


the French nation. The English nation, which was subdivided into two 
tribes, that of islanders and that of continentals, embraced all the northern 
and eastern parts of Europe beyond the frontiers of France. But when 

Fig. 14. A School of Mendicant Monks: a Birching. Miniature of the Manuscript Xo. 21,2*52 
in the Burgundy Library, Brussels (Fiftoonth Century). 

the two peoples separated from each other by the channel became violent 
antagonists, and the name of England had got to be an object of general 
execration for Frenchmen, the nation which for more than a century had 


borne it became the German nation, and this is the only name made use of 
in the public documents after the return of Charles VII. to Paris in 1437 
(Fig. 1). The Normandy nation had only one tribe, corresponding with the 
province after which it was called ; while the Picardy nation, on the other 
hand, had five, representing the five dioceses of Beauvais, Noyon, Amiens, 
Laon, and Terouanne, otherwise called des Morins. 

The four nations together constituted at first the University of Studies, 
but afterwards a fresh division was established, according to the order of the 
studies of each nation, and the Faculties came into existence. From that 
time forward, the distinction of nations only existed in the Faculty of Arts, 
a denomination which comprised grammar, philosophy, and the humanities 
as they were taught in the schools. Looked at from another point of view, 
the liberal arts, so called, comprised the trivium, that is to say, grammar, 
rhetoric, and dialectics ; v and the quadrifium, that is to say, arithmetic, 
geography, music, and astronomy. 

When, we consider the position held by the Church in society during the 
Middle Ages, it is not surprising that religious instruction should have been 
taken in hand at once^ and have become the object of a special faculty, that 
of Theology. When, some time later, the mendicant orders were founded 
by St. Dominic and St. Franois, the ancient masters of theology and those of 
the Faculty of Arts refused at first to have anything to do with the new-comers; 
but they were compelled to do so by St. Louis and Pope Alexander IV., and 
the useful co-operation of the allies whom it had at first repelled soon turned 
to the profit and to the glory of the Faculty of Theology (Fig. 14). 

In 1151 a clerk from Bologna, called Gratian, having united under the 
title of Decree the ancient and recent decisions of the ecclesiastical authorities, 
which comprised the whole canonical jurisprudence, Pope Eugene III. 
gave his approval to this compilation, and ordered it to be taught throughout 
Christendom. Such was the origin of the Faculty of the Decree, which was 
at first but a branch of the Faculty of Theology. At about the same period 
the Pandects of the Emperor Justinianus, discovered at Amalfi, in Calabria, 
added a very valuable source of documents to the study of law, which had 
hitherto possessed no other bases than the Theodosian Code, the barbarous 
laws and " capitularies " of the Kings of France. The labours of the Juris- 
consults everywhere received a new impetus, and especially in the University 
of Paris ; but notwithstanding it was not until much later that civil law 



came to rank beside canon law. Several popes, considering profane or 
secular jurisprudence as useless, and even opposed to ecclesiastical law, issued 
bulls in which students were enjoined to learn only canon law. 

It is towards the close of the twelfth century, also, that the study of 
medicine appears to have begun in the lay schools of Paris. Up to that 
period the clerks, and especially the clergy, who alone possessed sufficient 
learning to pursue the study of medicine, had been the sole masters of the 
art; but in course of time ecclesiastical discipline hampered and even 

Fig. 15. Seal of the four Nations or Faculty of Arts (Sixteenth Century). 
Paris National Library. The Cabinet of Medals. 

put a ban upon the study of it, as it had done upon that of civil law. It 
was, therefore, only after great difficulties that a Faculty of Medicine was 
founded at the University. It is true that medicine a science of facts and 
observations could not well make much progress amidst the prejudices of 
every kind, and under the blind authority of the categories, the formalities, 
and the empiric methods which so long clung to the University teaching. 
The Paris Faculty of Medicine could not, in these circumstances, hope to 
dethrone the famous schools of Salerno and Montpellier, which preserved the 
deposit of the medical knowledge of antiquity as it had been transmitted to the 


1 1 

Middle Ages by the Greeks and the Arabs. The three ne\\ faculties created 
at the University continued to be' .subordinate, notwithstanding their gradual 
development, to the Faculty of Arts (Fig. 15) ; the body of the four nations, 
of which this last-mentioned faculty consisted, assured it a clear prepon- 
derance, with the maintenance of certain essential prerogatives. Thus each 
nation elected a proctor, and each faculty a dean. The mode of election 

Fig. 16. Rector and Doctor of the University of Paris. After a Miniature of the " Cit de 
Dieu " (Fifteenth Century). Manuscript of the Paris National Library. 

for the proctors and their term of office varied, however, with different 
nations. The Faculty of Arts had four proctors (Fig. 15). The Faculty 
of Theology, besides ite dean, who was the senior doctor, chose every other 
year a syndic, whose business it was to administer the private business of the 
company. The Decree Faculty had only a dean selected by seniority in the 
grade of doctor, and the Faculty of Medicine had a dean elected every year 



from amongst the doctors in practice. Deans and proctors, to the number 
of seven, formed the higher tribunal of the University. The Faculty of 
Arts had, therefore, a clear majority of its own upon this tribunal ; it had, 
moreover, assumed for itself the exclusive right of nominating the rector 
or supreme head of the University, and he was bound to be a member of the 
faculty (Fig. 16). The Faculty of Arts also had the care of the archives, 
the management of the Pre-aux-Clercs, and the nomination or presentation 
of all the University officials not chosen by vote. 

Originally the elected rector did not hold office for more than six weeks, 

Fig. 17. Master Jean de Vandeuil, Proctor of the Picardy Nation (Fifteenth Century). 
Miniature of the Manuscript Register, No. 11 (1476' 83). University Archives. 

but in the thirteenth century the period was extended to three months, and 
towards the close of the fifteenth century the post came to be held in fact, if 
not in right, for a twelvemonth. The proctors of the nations (Fig. 17) were 
at first invested with the right of choosing the rector, but so many scandals 
were caused in this connection that the nations nominated four special 
electors, who, before proceeding to a selection, swore to make a choice honour- 
able and useful to the University. 

The rector, whose office conferred upon him high prerogatives, exercised 
a sovereign jurisdiction over all the schools, and recognised no authority as 


superior to his own within the precincts of the University. Often sum- 
moned to the King's Council, he took rank with the Bishop of Paris and 
with the Parliament at all public ceremonials. He gave to all the students, 

Fig. 18. Swiss Courier. After a Statue preserved in the Town Hall at Bale 
(Fifteenth Century). 

and also to the tutors, the letters or diplomas which conferred upon them 
the privileges of their grade, and he received from them their oath of passive 
obedience, " no matter to what dignity they might attain " an oath the 


breaking of which entailed very serious consequences. He appointed to all 
the offices of the University ; his accession to, and his resignation of, the 
post were celebrated by a procession, to which he invited, in addition to all 
the University officials, the religious communities residing within his juris- 
diction. In 1412, according to the chronicler Jouvenel des Ursins, when 
there was a solemn procession from the University to the Abbey of St. Denis 
to pray that war might be averted, the cortege was so long that the head of 

Fig. 19. University Beadle. Jean Lequeux, Messenger of Guise en Thierache, Diocese of Laon. 
Miniature of the Manuscript Eegister, No. 11 (1476 83). University Archives. 

the procession entered St. Denis, while the rector was still at the Mathurins 
Monastery, in the Rue St. Jacques. 

Next to the rector came the syndic, also called proctor, promoter, or procu- 
rator-fiscal, and it was he who was in reality the general manager of the 
University, and who could alone, in certain circumstances, counterbalance the 
preponderance of the rector. 

The treasurer had the control of the revenue and expenditure of the 
University. The expenses were large, and the revenues comprised, apart 


from the fee paid by all the students, a multiplicity of legacies and charitable 
foundations, the annual produce of the Pr^-aux-Clercs and that of the office 
of messenger. 

The registrar, secretary, or scribe, took notes or read documents at the 
meetings of the University, and preserved in the archives the registers, of 
which only a few are still extant. . 

The name of grand messager was given to certain of the principal 
burghers of Paris who, established in the capital, acted as correspondents for 
the scholars from the different provinces of France and the various countries 
of Europe. Accredited by the scholars' families, and sworn servants of the 
University, they were exempted from the service of the urban guard, and 
enjoyed other immunities. They were bound to supply the students, 
under certain securities, with the money which they might require. The 
number of these messengers was limited to one for each diocese. They had 
under their orders a number, varying according to circumstances, of sub- 
messengers, or mere postmen, who were perpetually coining and going to 
and from Paris with letters and parcels for the students and their rela- 
tives. This organization may be looked upon as the origin of the Letter- 
post and the Messageries, which have since been raised to the rank of public 
services the Post by Louis XL, the Messageries by Louis XIV. (Figs. 18 
and 19). 

The University had', in addition, its beadles, also called sergeants, massitrs, 
or apparitors, to the number of fourteen, each nation and each faculty 
appointing two, an upper and an under one. The rector was generally 
preceded by the two beadles of the nation to which he belonged. These 
functionaries, whose duties at first were purely ceremonial, afterwards were 
employed in the transcribing of public documents, and so came to be looked 
upon as half-copyists, half-literary persons (Fig. 19). 

To these officials, of high and low degree, must be added the two chan- 
cellors, attached to the churches of Notre-Dame and St. Genevieve, the two 
conservators of the privileges of the University. One of these, the royal 
conservator, was the provost of Paris, who, upon his appointment, took an 
oath that he would respect and maintain the rights of the University, while 
the second, or apostolic conservator, was selected from amongst the three 
Bishops of Mcaux, Bcauvais, and Senlis. 

The titles borne by the superior and subordinate officers of the University 


merely formed part of their temporary functions. These titles were quite 
distinct and independent of the scholastic titles, grades, or degrees, which 
were only to be acquired -by examination. Previously to the thirteenth 
century, it is certain that there were only two degrees in the University body : 
that of the students and that of the masters. Anybody who had the amount of 
knowledge or hardihood to face an audience could open a school, and it is to 
be remarked that daring often had its reward. Thus Abelard was often 
taunted with having dubbed himself of his own authority master of theology. 
Immediately after the foundation of the University there were three 
degrees which students had to pass in turn. The first, that of bachelor, 
derived its name indirectly, according to several theologists, from the Latin 
word baculum (rod, and' so, by extension, any weapon held in the hand), out 
of allusion to the different exercises which were the prelude to the military 
education of the young nobility. The first bachelors were the Bachelors of 
Arts. After having well studied his trivium, the candidate for the bacca- 
laureat underwent an examination, and had to enter into arguments upon 
gramma.r, rhetoric, and dialectics. ' These arguments disputes they were 
called took place at Christmas and during Lent. The candidate, if he 
came well out of them, obtained the treble privilege, 1st. of wearing the 
round hat, a mark of his rank ; 2nd. of being present at the masses of the 
nations ; 3rd. of commencing in the arts, that is to say, of teaching in his 
turn, under the direction and superintendence of a master. The bachelor, 
who was at the same time both student and teacher, explained Aristotle's 
treatises on logic, natural philosophy, metaphysics, and moral philosophy; 
and when he believed that he had mastered all these subjects, which now 
seem so far behind us, he applied to the ecclesiastical authorities for a license. 
The right of conferring this second University degree was at first shared by 
the Bishop of Paris and the Abbot of St. Genevieve, as spiritual sovereigns 
of the scholastic territory ; but afterwards it was accorded exclusively to the 
Chancellor of Notre-Dame, as delegate of the bishop. 

The licentiate, as soon as he had been approved of by the Church, again 
came up before the masters of the Faculty of Arts, to obtain from them the 
third degree, consisting of the cap and other insignia of the order, which 
gave him the title of Master of Arts. 

In the higher faculties, so called because the Faculty of Arts served, 
in a manner, as an introduction to the Faculties of Theologv, Decree, and 



Medicine, the procedure was much the same, excepting that the third grade 
or degree, which was only conferred after the candidate had sustained a long 



S J 

I "8 

.9 -a 




and difficult thesis in public, was more specially accompanied by the title of 
doctor (Fig. 20). 

The University of Paris, like all the institutions destined to last and to 



succeed, was placed beneath the fostering protection of the Church and the 
Crown. Thus the generous assistance of the temporal power and the 
tutelary influence of the spiritual power never failed it. The Holy See 
loved and encouraged in the University the eloquent voice of France, which, 
since the reign of Clovis, converted by St. Clotilde, had placed at the service 
of the Catholic faith all the forces and influence of her national genius and 
character. The Kings of France were equally well disposed towards 
the University, which was, for the capital of their kingdom, a source of 
wealth and ' of honour, ji reserve of eminent statesmen for their council, 
a nursery of clever and distinguished youths for their diplomacy. Thus 
sovereigns, spiritual and temporal, each in their own way, vied in showering 
favours upon this fruitful and powerful institution, which, nevertheless, 
showed itself, in certain grave circumstances, the reverse of grateful for the 
benefits heaped upon it by its august protectors. 

The history of Paris teems with episodes, some curious, and only too 
many tragic, which denote the' turbulent and seditious tendencies of the 
University students. These headstrong and undisciplined youlhs took advan- 
tage of the sort of inviolability which they owed to the blind and generous 
affection of their religious and lay patrons to gratify their love of dis- 
order. The University itself set the students an example of disobedience 
when the smallest of its prerogatives was called in question. The Univer- 
sity possessed three means of protesting against, or, as its historian, Egasse 
du Boulay, puts it, of remedying any infraction of its privileges. If the 
violation was committed by the secular power, it referred the matter at once 
to the King, as its jurisdiction emanated direct from the Crown. If the 
infraction was committed by the ecclesiastical authority, the University sent 
to Rome an embassy, consisting of its own doctors, who often found in the 
successor of St. Peter a former comrade, whose associations inclined him in 
favour of a University to which, as a graduate, he had formerly taken an 
oath of fidelity. If the Pope refused to comply with the request addressed 
to him by the University, the latter appealed to the universal Church and to 
the future council. Its last resource was what may be called a University 
excommunication. This meant a general stoppage of all studies and lectures. 
The masters and doctors in theology abstained from preaching in the 
churches. The intellectual, moral, and religious life of the capital was sus- 
pended. If the crisis lasted, the doctors, regents, and bachelors of the four 

('XH'ERSfTIES, SCHOOLS, STl'/>f:.\ '/ .V 


faculties closed their schools, and threatened to emigrate in a body, taking 
with them ;i whole army of ushers and clients, who formed nearly a third of 
the population of Paris. No power existed in the thirteenth century capable 
of holding out long against this silent and inflexible protest. 

Thus, in 1221, the University, having to complain of some undue exer- 
cise of authority by the Bishop of Paris, closed its schools for six months. 
In similar circumstances, four years later, the Papal Legate was assailed in 
his own house by a band of armed- students, who wounded several of his 
retinue, and would have maltreated him if he had not avoided capture. At 

Fig. 21. St. Louis, King of France, going to SLttins ht the Cordeliers Church, Paris, "ung 
estudiant par mesprison lui tumba son orinal sur son chief." The King, instead of punish- 
ing the student, gave him the prebendary of St. Quentin, en Vermandois, " because he was 
in the habit of getting up at this hour to study." Miniature of Manuscript of the Fifteenth 
Century. Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

the close of the Carnival of 1228, Queen Blanche, who was Regent during 
the minority of her son, Louis IX., inflicted severe punishment upon the 
students who, under the influence of drink, had committed great disorder and 
had shed blood in the Faubourg of St. Marcel. The University, finding 
the romonst ranees which it in consequence addressed to the King of no 
effect, dismissed the students and masters to their respective homes, left the 
capital for two years under an interdict, and only consented to resume the 


normal course of teaching after haying wrung from the Crown the repara- 
tion which it had demanded at first (Fig. 21). 

It must, however, be admitted that the University could only earn such 
victories as these at the cost of its own privileges, and with much injury to 
itself ; for the masters, scattered here and there during the time that the 
schools were closed, often co-operated in the foundation of rural universities 
at the places where they had taken up a temporary residence, and settled 
there permanently. Moreover, these periods of disturbance and strife were 
taken advantage of by other teaching bodies, who lost no time in opening 
schools, and in creating chairs, and who often obtained through the spiritual 
or temporal authority the favour of being admitted, either by a bull or an 
ordinance, into the University itself. It was in this way that in 1257 the 
Dominicans, supported by Louis IX., who had been their pupil, and by the 
popes, who had been their comrades, forced their way through the breach 
into the University of Paris, and this in spite of the distrust and animosity 
which their doctrines excited. ' It was in the same way that the University 
was compelled to open its .ranks to, and confer the doctor's cap upon, Brother 
Thomas Aquinas and Brother Bonaventura, who were the lights of the philo- 
sophic schools, but who remained far more attached, the one to the Order of 
St. Dominic, the other to that of St. Francis, than to the Faculty of 
Theology. Moreover, the sort of moral and political omnipotence acquired 
by the University in the Middle Ages was not the same at every epoch, 
and it is easy to recognise in the course of its history different phases, in the 
process of which its character, and tendencies underwent various modifications. 
In the first period the Paris schools were but the emanation of the Church, 
which was gradually becoming secularised. As the institution became more 
and more stable, it got to be more in harmony with other establishments. In 
the year 1200 Philip Augustus issued a charter, uniting the University into 
one body, and endowed the multitude of students gathered together from all 
parts of the world with very valuable privileges. From this laborious and 
intellectual mass of students were recruited several popes and cardinals, a 
great many archbishops or bishops, and a vast number of men of the 
highest ability in other professions throughout the thirteenth century. Up 
to the middle of the fourteenth century the authority and importance of the 
University continued to increase. From 1297 to 1304 it was of material 
aid to Philippe le Bel in his struggle with Pope Boniface VIII. In 1316, 


at the death of Louis X., and 'in 1328, at the death of Charles IV., its vote 
went a long way towards securing the triumph of the Salic law, and pre- 
venting the government of France from falling into the hands of an English 
prince. Councillor of the kings, instructor of the people, the University 
///* piTiiidiiciit Council of the Gauls pursued its high mission with great 
credit, and this was the period when it reached the apogee of its splendour. 
Then it was that all its members, masters and pupils alike, were recognised 
as inviolable, exempt from all tolls, subsidies, imposts, and military service of 
every kind. Then it was that, to complete the measure of its honours, 
Charles V. conferred upon the University the proud title, which it never let 
drop, of Eldest Daughter of the Kings. . 

But the period of its decadence was soon about to begin. Venality, 
sophistry, and party spirit took possession of its leaders. In 1380 the gold 
of the house of Burgundy was the stipend of several political creatures in 
the ranks of the doctors* in theology. In 1407 the Duke of Orleans, 
brother of the King, was' waylaid and murdered, and Master Jean Petit took 
up the murderers' part, in the pulpit, and justified political assassination. 
Then came the English, to whose yoke part of the University submitted with 
so much cowardice as to provoke, with a sort of complacent fanaticism, 
the iniquitous sentence which condemned the heroic Joan of Arc to the 
stake. Reprisals and. punishment were not long in overtaking them. King 
( 'liarles VII. inflicted the first blow upon this ancient institution, which his 
royal predecessors had protected, and it almost seems as if he punished the 
University for not having sustained its ancient reputation for patriotism and 
good sense. Not only did he recognise and confirm the existence of several 
new universities in the provinces (Figs. 10 13), but, rejecting the demand 
of the Paris University, which insisted that its only tribunal should be the 
King's Council, ordered its disputes to be judged by the Parliament (1445). 
Fifty-five years later, Louis XII., taking into consideration the wishes of 
the States-General convoked during the reign of Charles VIII., curtailed 
many of the privileges of the University; and, by his edict of August 
'}Jst, 1498, brought it within the jurisdiction of the common law. The 
University attempted to resist, and, as in its palmy days, to resort to its 
traditional practices. The rector ordered the schools to be closed, and no 
sermons to be preached in the churches ; but the King, absent from the 
capital, received his eldest daughter with a bad grace. Upon his return, 


escorted by his military household, all fully armed, he rode through the 
University quarter of the city without condescending to draw bridle to 
hear the harangue of the rector, who had come out to meet him, followed by 
all the officers and students. The University gave way, and this was her 
last attempt to maintain by force her feudal prerogatives. 

The University ceased from this time to be the centre of intellectual 
domination. Printing was invented about this time, and diffused the 
instruments of study and knowledge in all directions. The Reformation 
proclaimed the liberty of self-examination, and the free schools established 
under the new religious ' doctrines throughout Europe obtained the pre- 
ference. Paris ceased to be the exclusive source of science, but Rome 
remained the sole focus of divine light. The University lost its unity and 
its strength when it ceased to lean exclusively for support upon the Church 
and the Crown. 

Having thus rapidly reviewed the vicissitudes which the University 
underwent up to the sixteenth 'century, it becomes necessary to notice the 
various, scholastic establishments which, affiliated to it, or independent of it 
altogether, constituted the totality of the educational system in schools 
during the Middle Ages. 

When Abelard came to Paris in 1107 he found two masters of great 
reputation, who gave their lessons in the Bishop's house, by the side of the 
cathedral. It was not far from this house, and at the very entrance to the 
cloisters of Notre-Dame, where Canon Fulbert and his pupil Heloise lived, 
that Abelard first opened his school. A few years later, William of Cham- 
peaux resigned his archdeaconship, and withdrew to the priory of St. Victor, 
upon the left bank of the Seine, outside the walls of the city, in order to 
found a new school there. Abelard, expelled from the school which he 
occupied in the city, near the episcopal residence, took refuge upon Mount 
St. Genevieve, whither he was followed by his pupils. Notwithstanding, 
the cathedral schools continuing to increase, and being short of room within 
the enclosure of the city, were divided into two parts. The one, consisting 
of artiens (students of Arts), crossed the bridge, and took up their quarters 
close to the Church of St. Julian the Poor, which was a branch of the 
Metropolitan Cathedral (Fig. 22). The theologians retained their residence 
under the walls of Notre-Dame. It was in this way that the elements 
which a century later constituted the University began to collect. In a 

r.V/ 1 -A'A'.S7 /YA'.V. SC/fOOI.S. S/l YM'.V/'.V. 

short time the nations erected' four large rooms or schools, close to the 
Church of St. Julian the Poor, -in the Rue Fouarre, or Feurre, so called 

Fig. 22. Bai-relief of the Principal Alter in the Church of St. Juliun the Poor (Twelfth- Century 
Work). Two Scholars upon their Knees on each side of the Crucifix. 

because the students had to sit upon straw (fowtrrt'}, grouped around the 
chair occupied by the master. Independently of these great schools, which 


represented a sort of general school, any one who had obtained a license hired 
a room, and invited the public to take lessons from him. Thus the Univer- 
sity quarter, which was afterwards called the "Latin quarter," became 
peopled with masters and schools. It soon became necessary to erect hotels 
or private dwellings to take in the students, who were at once eager to 
learn, and very scantily provided with money (Fig. 23). This was the 
origin of the Paris colleges, under which name were founded, in the early 
days of the University, various establishments, in which aspirants for reli- 
gious orders studied at the expense of the monastic orders to which they 

Pig. 23. Interior of a School. After a Design of the Sixteenth Century. National Library. 
Cabinet of Designs (Old Masters) on Wood. 

belonged. Private charity soon created colleges of a similar kind for 
laymen, veritable houses of refuge, in which the students were provided, 
to use the apposite expression of one founder, with bread for the body and 
the mind. This double character of liberality and devotion is a prominent 
feature in the primitive constitution of these establishments, which were 
founded and endowed by pious persons with the view of assisting the educa- 
tion of the poor. Such were, in the thirteenth century, the Colleges of the 
Bons Enfants St. Honore (1208), and of the Bons Enfants St. Victor (1248), 
the Colleges of St. Catherine du Valdes Ecoliers (1229), and of Premontre 

r.v/rA'A'.s7/-//:.v, sci/ooi.s, \TCDI-:.\TS. 


), the Treasurer's College (f268), and, oldest of all, the College of the 
Ki-litern, which dates from the first half of the twelfth century. 

Nothing, however, can be imagined more pitiable and more deserving of 
sympathy than these colleges of the Middle Ages, in which, under the 
control of a regent or priiin'/Kil, a few masters, as poor as their scholars, 
devoted themselves to the education of a dozen or so of students, who shared 
with them their scanty pittance. With scarcely enough money to keep 
body and soul together, they were compelled to do some menial work, or else 
to appeal to public charity. In the fourteenth century, as we learn from 
the ditty called " Crieries de Paris," the scholars of the College of the Bons 
Enfants, in the Rue St. Honore, wandered about the streets, and, holding out 
their hands to the passers-by, exclaimed 

" Lea Bons Enfanta orrez (hear) crier : 
Du pain 1. ..." 

Some few colleges were better off than this woe-stricken house, for, being 
endowed with fixed revenues by their founders, encouraged and enriched by 
the clergy and the great, they prospered and continued in existence until 
the Revolution. 

The one which long remained the most famous of all, the Sorbonne, 
owed its name and its origin to the liberality of the learned Robert Sorbon, 
who, after having undergone privations of every kind in his youth, became 
the chaplain and confessor of Louis IX. By letters patent in 1250 the 
saintly King, himself contributing to this foundation, granted for the use of 
the future college a house and stables adjoining, situated in the Rue Coupe- 
Gueule, in front of the ruins of the palace of the Thermae, or of the Caesars. 
This college was specially destined for a certain number of needy youths, who, 
after having taken their arts degree, gave themselves up to the study of sacred 
lore. It is needless to remind our readers that the Sorbonne, rebuilt, enlarged, 
and richly endowed by Cardinal Richelieu, who bequeathed to it a part of his 
property, became at last the seat of the Faculty of Theology. 

Created upon the model of Robert Sorbon's foundation, a great many 
colleges, instituted by men of mark either in the Church or in society, were 
erected as if by mugic no less than sixty were built between 1137 and 1360 
in all parts of the University quarter, which extended in the shape of an 
amphitheatre from the summit of Mount Genevieve down to the Seine, and 



which also spread along the then deserted banks of the stream, from the 
bridge of La Tournelle to what is now the bridge of the Saints-Peres. 

Two of these colleges call for special notice. The first is the College of 
Navarre, which was founded in 1304 by Queen Jeanne de Navarre, wife 
of Philippe le Bel. This college, constructed to receive seventy students, of 
whom thirty were students of arts, twenty of theology, and twenty of 
grammar, soon became a model for establishments of a similar kind, and the 
high reputation which it had acquired endured for four centuries. The 
University deposited its valuable archives in the chapel of the college, which 
was dedicated to St. Louis, the ancestor of the royal founders. The sons of 
the highest families, and even princes of the reigning house, received in 
this learned retreat the elements of a classical education, and moreover, by 
the terms of the charter, the King was the first bursar of the Navarre 
College, which may be considered as one of the most aristocratic institu- 
tions of that time, and also the one in which the rules and regulations were 
the least strict. 

The College de Montaigu, established at a later date in the Rue des 
Sept-Voies, upon Mount St. Genevieve, was scarcely less famous than that of 
Navarre, but its history is a very different one. Though it was originally 
founded by 'the wealthy Parisian family of Montaigu, upon such liberal 
terms that an income of ten livres (equivalent to twelve or fifteen pounds 
sterling in the present day) was secured for the maintenance of each student, 
it was so badly managed by the regents that the total revenue of the college 
fell to eleven sols in gold, equivalent to about 40 at the present time. At 
this period (1483) the college passed into the hands of Jean Standonck, one 
of the most original characters amongst the ancient schoolmasters. Son of 
a Mechlin tailor, arriving in Paris with an ardent desire to obtain a liberal 
education, and received out of charity by the Abbey of St. Genevieve, 
whose hospitality he repaid by doing odds and ends of work, Jean Standonck, 
being endowed with an uncommon degree of energy and perseverance, rose 
from the condition of a servant to that of pupil, and eventually became a 
master. Selected by his fellows to manage the affairs of the Montaigu 
College, he succeeded in restoring order and economy in the house, in 
founding twelve fresh bursarships, and meeting all expenses, without incur- 
ring any new debt. But he only effected all these improvements by 
imposing upon his students a very austere regime, and compelling them to 


lead a life as full of privations ' as his own had been. Arduous study, 
frequent fasts, a meagre pittance, .and a rigid discipline, such became the 
proverbial condition of the Montaigu students a condition wittily expressed 
in their Latin motto : MOM acutus, ingenium acutttm, drntrs acttti (a sharp- 
pointed mountain, a sharp-pointed mind, and sharp-pointed teeth). Attired 
in a cape of coarse cloth, closed in front, and surmounted by a hood fastening 
at the back, they were called the pattrren capettcs of Montaigu, and they 
were to be seen daily fetching their share, conformably with their statutes, of 
the bread which the Carthusians of the Rue d'Enfer distributed to the poor. 
Erasmus and Rabelais, both of whom learnt by personal experience, at a few 
years' interval, the hardships of the Montaigu regime, have immortalised, each 
after his own fashion, their melancholy college recollections ; the first in one 
of his ingenious colloquies, by pouring his maledictions on the inhuman 
treatment, the unhealthy lodging, the unwholesome and insufficient food 
which had seriously injured his health while a student there ; the second by 
putting in the mouth of his mock heroes many a stinging epigram about the 
rolltge de pouillcric. 

Independently of the University and of the colleges, there also existed in 
France, as in all Christendom during the Middle Ages, several kinds of 
schools, some elementary, open to both sexes, and generally termed little 
xrhools, or French schools, . as all that was taught in them was reading and 
writing, with a few rudiments of the vulgar tongue and sacred music ; the 
others, reserved for boys, and called the great school*, or the Latin schools 
(Fig. 24). Both of these schools, generally attached to the churches, were 
in most cases under the control of a single superintendent responsible to the 
bishop of the diocese. This superintendent, called either rector or head- 
master of schools, received from each scholar a fixed annual fee, payable in 
two instalments, and a supplementary sum, also divided into two parts, one 
of which was set apart for the repair of the building, and placed in the 
hands of the provost, while the other was used for the purchase of birches, 
which were kept in hand by the head-porter or bircher (Fig. 25). These 
schools only received free scholars whom their parents or relatives under- 
took to board. They had at their disposal, most of them under the patronage 
of some private founder, if not under the auspices of the parochial chapter, 
a certain number of purses or grfidn'fii'x, which were given to the needy 
students in return for some small services which they were required to render. 



Thus, for instance, in the schools at Troyes, the primiticcs, so called because 
of the early morning work they had to do, were exempted from the payment 
of any fees, in return -for which they had to clean and sweep out the school- 
rooms twice a week. 

We learn from an inventory of the silver plate of Marie d'Anjou, wife of 
Charles VII., for the years 1454-55 an inventory in which are mentioned 
the school books used by Charles, Duke of Berry, their second son what were 

Tig. 24. The Schoolmaster, from the Danse macabre, Guyot Marchant edition (U90). 

the works used for the elementary classes previously to the invention of 
printing. These books, which had already been used for the education of 
the Dauphin, afterwards Louis XI., are : 1st, an A, B, C ; 2nd, a psalter, 
called the Seven Psalms, which children had to get, by heart ; 3rd, a Donat, 
or treatise of the eight parts of the discourse by ^Elius Donatus, a gram- 
marian of the fourth century ; 4th, an Accident, another grammar treating of 
the cases and conjugations of verbs ; 5th, a Cafo, a collection of moral 
distichs in Latin, with a French translation, attributed to Valerius Cato, a 


poet and grammarian mentioned! very favourably by Suetonius; 6th, a 
Doctrinal, or Latin grammar, taken from the great work of Priscianus, a 
grammarian of the fourth century, and made into Leonine verse (the last 
syllable of each line rhyming with the middle syllable) as a help to the 
memory, by Alexander" de Ville-Dieu, who in 1209 was a distinguished 
teacher in the Paris schools. 

These works, although intended for primary instruction, were also meant 
to give the pupils some elementary knowledge of the Latin tongue, which, 
in almost general use during the Middle Ages, was at once the language 
of the Church, of letters, and of sciences, and was the common idiom 

Fig. 25. The Schoolmaster, after a Drawing by Soquand (1528). 

amongst all Christian nations. This will explain how it was that Latin 
was not only taught, but spoken, to the exclusion of the vulgar tongue, in the 
Universities, the colleges, and the principal schools. It was not until later, 
when the modern spirit had propagated amongst the people a multitude of 
new ideas and sentiments difficult to translate literally into Latin, that the 
struggle began between the language of the ancients and the living tongues 
a long and eventful struggle, which, after heroic efforts in favour of the 
beautiful language immortalised by the masterpieces of the ancient classic 
writers, ended in Latin being finally relegated to the list of dead languages. 
It is interesting to note what efforts were made by the University of Paris, 
by the imposition of fines and punishments, in the fifteenth, and even up to 


the beginning of the seventeenth century, to repel the invasion of French, 
which the scholars naturally brought with them when they arrived from 
home. It is true that a regulation, passed in 1434, allowed the use of two 
kinds of Latin : the congruous Latin, which every student who had reached 
his doctrinal, or Latin syntax,' used exclusively; and- the incongruous Latin, 
which students were permitted to speak amongst each other in the elementary 
classes. French, even in private conversation and out of school hours, was 
generally prohibited. 

But the Latin tongue, limited, so to speak, to the domain of the 
University, recovered all its credit and renown when, at the epoch of the 
Renaissance, the literary masterpieces of Rome were once more sought 
after, studied, and commented on with ardent emulation by the learned, 
circulated in a number of new and revised editions, and welcomed with 
enthusiasm by all literary Europe. Then it was that men of mark and 
genius, such as Erasmus, Melancthon, and Mathurin Cordier, composed 
colloquies and dialogues, which made the language of the Augustan age 
more familiar to the youth of the age of Francois I. and Charles V. But 
these efforts, though successful for the time, were not long triumphant, and 
it is a singular and significant fact that of the books of study published 
at this period the only one which has survived was written in French, viz. 
the Cinlite puerile et honnete, which first appeared at Poitiers in 1559, with 
the title, far more appropriate to the character of the book, of "A mirror in 
which the young may learn good morality and the decencies of life." 

But if the books of study used in the ancient schools are now out of date 
and long since forgotten, such is not the case with the different kinds of 
recreation in which boys and young men used to indulge as a relaxation 
from a course of study often abstract and always severe. The Garyantna of 
Rabelais, and the familiar dialogues of Mathurin Cordier, enable us to frame 
a list of games which are still played, though in some cases under slightly 
different names ; as, for instance, the ball, prisoner 's-base, leap-frog, quoits, 
clicquette (pieces of wood, or shords, which were beaten one against another 
to make them ring), ninepins, bat and trap, spinning- tops and whipping-tops, 
fhefossette, or pitch-farthing (which was formerly played with nuts), odd or 
even, cards, draughts, tennis, heads or tails, tip-cat, &c. 

These were the peaceable games of children and scholars, but they were 
too tame for the turbulent tastes of the older students, whose bad reputation 



is still proverbial. From all time, grave magistrates, illustrious writers, 
famous citizens, and even saintly personages have prefaced their career of 

labour, study, and virtue by a more or less prolonged sowing of wild oats. 
At all times, moreover, Paris offered only too many temptations to vice and 
dissipation. It is easy, therefore, to understand what must have been the 


condition, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, when the police, as an 
institution, were hardly known, and when public morality still felt the 
effects of long years of decadence, of a population of students penned up in 
a territory which they looked upon as a freehold, consisting, as they did, of 
youths on the verge of manhood and of full-grown men, belonging to various 
nationalities, and left to their own passions. When it is further remembered 
that a degree of arts could not be obtained before the age of one-and- 
twenty, and one of theology till the age of thirty-five (after eight years' 
study 'in the latter case), no wonder that this turbulent quarter was a 
nuisance, and even a danger for the honest and peaceful inhabitants of Paris. 

The whole city was more than once disturbed, and public safety endan- 
gered, by the aggressive and disorderly habits of the students. Not a day 
passed without quarrels and fights, arising out of the most futile causes. 
The insulting epithets which the students applied to each other show, more- 
over, the antipathies which prevailed amongst them, and the coarseness which 
was common to them all. The English had the reputation of being cowards 
and drunkards ; the French were proud and effeminate ; the Germans dirty, 
gluttonous, and ill-tempered ; the Normans boastful and deceitful ; the 
Burgundiaus brutal and stupid ; the Flemish bloodthirsty, vagabond, and 
house-burners ; and so forth for the rest. 

With all this, the person of a clerk (a title appertaining to every student 
who had obtained his license) was, according to the canons of the Church, 
inviolable ; to lay hands upon a student was to commit a crime which 
entailed excommunication, and which the Pope alone could absolve (Fig. 26). 
This will explain the audacity and arrogance of the students, and it is no 
wonder that the civil authorities were, for all the most minute precautions, 
continually at a loss how to repress the excesses of these riotous youths, 
who, going about day and night in armed bands, indulged in every kind of 
disorder, and did not stop at any crime. 

The establishment of the colleges led to a decided change for the better. 
Previously to this happy innovation the students took advantage of the most 
trifling religious or literary occurrence to increase the number of festivals, 
which were celebrated with no lack of dancing, masquerades, banquets, &c. 
All these scholastic rejoicings were afterwards reduced to two refreshment* 
(days intended for a carousal), one at the beginning, the other at the end of 
the public examinations, a period at which the candidates elected a captain 

r.V/CA'A'.sTT/A'.V, SF/fOOLS, ST(~/>/:.\ /s. 


from amongst themselves, and to a fte in honour of the patron saint of each 
nation. This was exclusive of the great festivals celebrated in honour of 
such and such a patron of the University corporation. 

The University, after having at first been placed beneath the guardian- 
ship of the Holy Virgin, patroness of the Church and of the city of Paris, 
and whose image is to be traced at every epoch upon the seals and other dis- 

Fig. 27. The legend of St. Nicholas, after the Bourgea stained glass of Fathers Cahier and 
Martin (Thirteenth Century). The lower part refers to the popular story of the three students 
whom an innkeeper and his wife assassinated and put into a salt-tub, and whom the saint 
brought to life again. At the top the same saint is seen bringing by night a sum of money 
sufficient for the dowry of three poor maidens whom their father was unable to provide for. 

tinctive emblems of the schools, had adopted as patrons and protectors 
several saints to whom special homage was rendered, viz. St. Thomas A 
Becket of Canterbury, St. Cosmo, St. Adrian, and St. Andrew. After- 
wards the only saints feted were St. Nicholas and St. Catherine (Fig. 27), the 
one patron of the clerks, the other of young people generally, but especially 
of girls. The nations also had their special patrons. When the wars with 
the English lessened the popularity of St. Thomas of Canterbury, the nation of 



France invoked by preference St. William of Bourges, an ancient pupil of 
the University. One tribe of the Picardy nation honoured St. Firmin, the 
first Bishop of Amiens, while the other tribe feted St. Piat, Bishop of 
Tournay. The patron saint of the Normandy nation was St. Remain, Arch- 
bishop of Rouen. The nation of England, after having stamped upon its 
seal the image of Edmund the Martyr, Bishop of Norwich, and of St. 
Catherine and St. Martin, made a point, when it became the nation of 
Germany, of celebrating the festival of St. Charlemagne, who was looked 
upon as the founder of the clergy throughout Christendom. 

The patron festivals were, therefore, very numerous in the University of 
Paris, and the students were always ready to interrupt their studies to take 
part in the solemnities which were generally held in the famous Pre-aux- 
Clercs, their veritable domain, beginning at the Faubourg St. Germain des 
Pro's, and extending down to the Seine, all along what are now the Rue St. 
Dominique and the Rue de 1'Universite. 

Of all the festivals at which the students took part in a body, the most 
popular was the Lendit fair, which they looked upon as instituted expressly 
for their amusement, though it dates back beyond the foundation of the 
University itself. 

The Paris Cathedral, having received from Constantinople in 1109 some 
authentic fragments of the cross, the Bishop, in compliance with the wishes 
of the population who could not find room in the Cathedral, where the 
relics had hpen deposited, carried them in great pomp, accompanied by his 
clergy, to the plain of St. Denis, where there was room enough for the vast 
concourse of worshippers who assembled to contemplate and adore these 
relics. It is a well-ascertained fact that the schools of the cloister of Notre- 
Dame took part in the procession. The same ceremony and procession were 
renewed at stated periods ; and, in the course of time, a market or fair was 
established upon the very spot consecrated by the religious ceremony. Every 
year, on the 12th of June, the day after the feast of St. Barnabas, the Lendit 
(or rather the Indict, that is to say, the day appointed) fair was opened. 
It was also called the feast of the parchment (see the volume, " Arts in the 
Middle Ages," chapter Parchment, Paper). Early in the morning of that 
day, the students, attired in their best, assembled on horseback at the top 
of Mount St. Genevieve, to accompany the rector of the University, who, 
arrayed in his scarlet cloak, and wearing his doctor's cap, proceeded on a 

Fig. 28. Hector of the Prague University and Scholars of the different Nations who studied in the same Univcroity. 
From an ancient Picture still possessed by the Prague University. 


mule or hackney, and accompanied by the deans, proctors, and myrmidons, 
to the plain of St. Denis, where the market for the sale of parchment was 
already opened. The rector, upon reaching the fair, caused to be put 
aside as much parchment as would be required by the University for the 
coming year, and received from the sellers a donation equivalent to 100 
in the present day. After this the students alighted from their horses, 
and, instead of forming part of the procession back to Paris, amused them- 
selves at the -fair. This invariably led to riot and disorder, and not a 
year passed without blood being spilt. Thus, from the fifteenth to the six- 
teenth century, the decrees of Parliament against the carrying of arms or 
sticks, decrees which were continually being renewed and always neglected, 
testify to the gravity of the evil and to the obstacles in the way of putting 
a stop to it. At last, in 1566, the fair was transferred from the plain to the 
town of St. Denis, and at about the same period paper began to supersede 
parchment even in public documents. The rector, therefore, ceased getting 
a supply of it at the Lendit fair, and the students had no further pretext to 
attend this fair, which soon fell into disuse. By the beginning of the 
seventeenth century the only vestige left of it was the general holdiday which 
the rector granted to the students of the University upon the first Monday 
after the feast of St. Barnabas. 

The clerks and students of Paris were also the principal actors in, if not the 
inventors of, certain ridiculous and burlesque ceremonies which, commenced 
in the Church, and, after having been tolerated by it, under the name of the 
Feasts of the Fusans, of the Ass, and of the Innocents, were only suppressed 
by the action of the Church itself (see in this volume the chapter on Popular 
Superstitions). These singular and absurd buffooneries, which were so 
popular amongst the students, were, in course of time, succeeded by more 
sober recreations, such as theatrical representations within the colleges, open- 
air games, periodical excursions to the country, as, for instance, those to Our 
Lady of the Vines and Our Lady of the Fields, or the Mai/ excursion, which 
terminated in the planting of a tree in full bloom before the rector's gate. 
But, as Vallet de Viriville remarks, it took many years to efface the old 
traditions of violence and insubordination, for the French chroniclers of the 
sixteenth century represent the students of their time as amusing themselves 
in a manner that generally exceeded the limits of propriety. To pace the 
streets at night, without regard for the tranquillity of the citizens or for the 



Fig. 29.-Seal of the University of Oxford. Fig. 30. Seal of the University of Cambridge. 

Fig. 31. Seal of Bulliol ColleRe 
(founded 1269), Oxford. 

Fig. 32. Seal of the University of Prague. 


modesty of their wives and daughters, to belabour the watchmen and throw 
the sergeants into the Seine, were deeds of valour recorded in the souvenirs 
of the University, and long talked of by the pupils of the Navarre and 
Montaigu Colleges. 

The student of the Middle Ages was, as a peculiar type, essentially 
Parisian at first, though he soon became naturalised in all the towns where 
a University was founded after the twelfth century. He was, perhaps, the 

Fig. 33. External View of Leyden University, founded in 1575 by William of Nassau. From a 
contemporary Drawing in the work entitled, "Illustrium Holland!*, etc., ordinum alma 
Academia Leydensis " (Lugd. Batav., 1614, in quarto). 

greatest gossip and pedant in Italy, where the University of Bologna, founded 
in 1158, soon led to the creation of Universities at Naples (1224), Padua 
(1228), Rome (1245), and Pisa (1333). Students of this stamp naturally 
became still more arrogant and quarrelsome in the Germanic Universities 
which were founded in succession at Prague (1348), Cologne (1385), Heidel- 
berg (1386), and Leipsic (1409). The English students at Oxford (1200) and 
Cambridge (1257) were less noisy ; the Spanish students in the Universities 
of Valencia (1209), Salamanca (1250), and Valladolid (1246) were more 


Date of Foundation. Name of University. 

Name of Founders. 

About 1180. MoNTPKLLIER. 

1223. TOULOUSE. 

1305. ORLEANS. 

1339. GREXOHLE. 

1364. AXGKKS. 

1365. ORANGE. 
1423. DOLE. 
1431. POITIBBS. 




William, Seigneur of Mompellier ; con- 
firmed in 1289 by Pope Nicholas IV. 

Pope Gregory IX. 

Clement V. and Philippe le Bel. 

Humbert II., Dauphin of the Viennois. 

Charles V., King of France. 

Raymond V., Prince of Orange. 

Philippe le Bon, Duke of Burgundy. 

Pope Eugene IV.; and Charles VI [., 
King of France. 

Henry VI., King of England. 

Pope Pius II. ; and Francis II., Duke 
of Brittany. 

Louis XI., King of France. 

Henry II., King of France. 
Philippe II., King of Spain. 

PoNT-i-MoussoN'. Charles III., Duke of Lorraine. 




VALENCIA (Spain). 
























1426. LOUVAIN. 
1438. FLORENCE. 
1454. TKKYKS. 
1459. BALE. 
1475. ALCALA. 

1502. WlTTEMBERG. 

1504. SEVILLE. 
1531. GRENADA. 
1575. LEYDEN. 
1591. DUBLIN. 




Fig. 34,-Framework of the first page of the MS. of the "Douze damea de Rhctoriquo " (Sixteenth Century). 

Paris National Library. 


pompous and . austere ; the Portuguese students at Coimbra (1279) and 
Lisbon (1290) were more proud and vain ; the Swiss students at Geneva 
(1368) and Bale (1459) appear to have been rather torpid and full of 
formality, while the Dutch students at Louvain (1426) and Leyden (1575) 
were remarkable for their close application to work. But the Paris student 
hardly changed in any respect ; he remained the same gay and mirthful 
companion that Rabelais has depicted in the Panurge of his "Pantagruel." 


Annihilation of the Pngan Philosophy. New Christian Philosophy. Martianus CapelU. 
Boethius and Cassiodorus. Isidore of Seville. Bede, Alcuin, and Raban Maurns. John 
Scotus Erigena. Origin of Scholasticism. Gerhert. Realism and Nominalism. Be ranger of 
Tours. Roscelin and St. Anselm. William of Champeaux and Abelard. Gilbert de la Porree 
and St. Bernard. Amaury de Bene. Alhertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas. The 
Franciscans and tho Dominicans. William of Ockham. Decadence of Scho'asticism. 
Platonists and Aristotelians. The Philosophy of the Renaissance. The Lutheran Schools. 
P. K UMHS. Montaigne. 

HE love of knowledge, says Aristotle, is 
natural to all men. It is the passion to 
which the wise men of antiquity were 
slaves, and which still inflames the learned 
in our own day. It is the source of all 
science and of all philosophy. From 
an etymological point of view, what is 
philosophy ? It is the love of knowledge. 
The Middle Ages, notwithstanding the 
ardour of religious faith at that period, 
were not without philosophy ; for during 
that period, memorable for the fervour 

of belief, the human heart was not insensible to the noble passion which is 
innate in it of knowing and understanding all things. Men sought with 
more or less 'success to discover the truth, and hence resulted the various 
aspects which the philosophy of the Middle Ages offers to those who study it. 
In the first centuries of the Christian era, when the traditions of the 
schools of antiquity seem lost, the cultivation of science was abandoned by 
all save a few, and even with them the whole of their philosophy consisted 
in a few ill-defined aphorisms. They were succeeded by a few bold thinkers, 
who, anxious to obtain the credit of being thought masters, put forth the 



most daring statements, some wholesome and others dangerous, which took 
root a little later ; and the thirteenth century shows us the thinkers of the 
Middle Ages grappling vigorously with barbarism, and gradually attaining a 
philosophy which reconciled the verities of the faith and rational concep- 
tions. But this philosophy was, in turn, attacked by daring innovators, 

Fig. 35. Boetiiius takes counsel of Dame Philosophy. Miniature of the "Consolation of 
Boethius," Translation of Jean de Meung, Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. Lihrary 
of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot. 

and, well founded as it was, could not resist their onslaught. Men's minds 
became very agitated, new systems came into existence, and the Christian 
faith grew weaker ; and so we find ourselves no longer in the century of 
St. Louis, but in that of Francois I. and Leo X. 

Such are the principal phases through which philosophy passed during 

rilll.OSOPHU ' S( '11 -. \v 'S. 


the long period which li '^aii with the lust tumults of the harhariun invasion, 
and ended with tlu- Hen lisviuce in 'the sixteenth century. Its history is for 
the most part difficult to Mudy, and always very dry; yet it has been made 
the subject in our day of many works, the best of which, despite its 
numerous defects, is that of M. Huureau, from which we shall borrow largely, 
availing ourselves also of the valuable researches of M. Charles Jourdain, the 

Cjfcdtttmmct feftconfr Jiutt teaSB&i 

Fig. 36. The Wheel of Fortune. Miniature from the " Consolation of Boethius," Translation of 
Jean de Moung, Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. Library of II. Ambroise Firmin-Pidot. 

editor of Abelard's works, and the historian of the philosophy of St. Thomas 

Amongst the Christian writers who preserved a few remnants of ancient 
learning amidst the ruins of the Roman empire must be mentioned, first of 
all, Martianus Capella, philosopher and poet of the fifth century, the author of 
the "Satyricon," a sort of encyi-lop:edia in prose and in verse, which was long 


adopted in the schools of the Middle Ages as the poetic summary of the 
teaching which it attributes to the seven liberal arts grammar, dialectics, 
rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music. This great work, 
which is more remarkable for wit and imagination than for learning and 
good taste, may be looked upon as the final flicker of ancient thought as the 
first glimmer of the dawn of modern thought. 

. Almost contemporaneous with Martianus Capella comes the patrician 
Boethius, minister of Theodoric, put to death by order of his master, the 
learned interpreter of Aristotle's treatises on Logic, and author of a work in 
prose and in verse, which he entitled, " Of the Consolation of Philosophy" (Figs. 
35 and 36), and which was one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages. 
A contemporary and friend of Boethius at the court of Theodoric was Cassio- 
dorus, also famous for his learning and for his fondness for ancient works, copies 
of which he had made, and which he, more than any one else, was instrumental 
in preserving for the benefit of future generations. Cassiodorus was the 
author of a treatise on the Mind, another on the Seven Liberal Arts, a great 
work on Divine Institutions, and letters which form a very valuable contribu- 
tion to the history of his time. 

A century after Boethius and Cassiodorus, the part which they had played 
in Italy fell in Spain to Isidore of Seville, who, discouraged at first by the diffi- 
culties of study, obtained by force of perseverance the foremost place amongst 
the writers of his time for the extent and variety of his works. In addition 
to Commentaries on Holy Writ, and a History of the Visigoth Kings, he has 
left a great work, " De Originibus, or the Etymologies," in the twenty volumes 
composing which he sums up the elements of theology, jurisprudence, natural 
history, agriculture, mechanics, and the liberal arts. 

In another part of Europe, Ireland, converted to Christianity by St. 
Patrick, became rapidly covered with monasteries, as densely populated as 
many towns, and which still retained some remnants of literary culture. In 
England, at the monastery of Jarrow (Durham), was educated the venerable 
Bede ; there he lived, taught, and died (735), just as he was completing the 
commentary of a Psalm, leaving behind him various works, amongst which 
are several treatises useful as an introduction to the study of science. 

It was in an English monastery, too, at York, that Alcuin, the most 
energetic and learned of the assistants employed by Charlemagne to improve 
the condition of his schools, was brought up. The books which he has left 


behind him are instinct with the noblest enthusiasm for philosophy, which he 
does not separate from the liberal arts, but the importance of which he 
foresees, and which he looks upon as the best preparation for the study of 

The work of Alcuin was continued by his disciple, Raban Maurus, who 
died Archbishop of Mainz in 856. . He contributed to the first progress of 
the vulgar tongue by the composition of a Latin-Teuton glossary for all the 
books of the Old and New Testament. The voluminous collection of his 
works comprises, together with commentaries upon the Sacred Scriptures, a 
treatise upon the " Instruction of Clerks," another upon the " Calculation of 
Time," and, above all, an encyclopaedia in twenty books, which he entitled, 
" On the Universe," and in which he treats successively of God, of the Divine 
Persons, of the angels, of men, and of the other creatures. 

A man possessing more original but less solid and reliable qualities than 
Raban was the Irish John, surnamed Scotus or Erigena, who figured in the 
reign of Charles the Bold (Fig. 37) amongst the masters of the Palace 
School founded in Paris by Charlemagne. Scotus, whose talent was subtle 
and hardy, and who was well versed in the Greek language, got lost in the 
mazes of a philosophy which Compromised the verities of the faith by con- 
founding them with the pantheistic hallucinations of the school of Alexandria. 
His principal work is a treatise upon the " Division of Natures," in which he 
teaches that the creation is eternal ; that God derived the world from himself, 
and formed it of his own substance ; that the Creator and the creature must not, 
therefore, be regarded as objects distinct from one another ; that the creature 
exists in God ; and that God, by an ineffable marvel, is created in the creature, 
&c. No wonder that these strange doctrines were anathematized by the Church, 
and that in the early part of the Middle Ages they had few adepts. The 
name of John Scotus had but a momentary celebrity, and was soon forgotten. 

There is no need to dwell upon several other masters, such as Heiric and 
Remi of Auxerre, whom posteritv has almost forgotten, much as they were 
thought of by their contemporaries. But a few words are essential about 
that remarkable man, Gerbert, born in Auvergne in the first half of the tenth 
centurv, educated at Aurillac by the monks of the Abbey of St. G^raud, 
mixed up in the course of his life in the events which agitated France, 
Germany, and Italy, councillor of the Emperors of Germany, in turn school- 
man, diplomatist, Archbishop of Rheims and Ravenna, Pope in the year 


Fig. 37. Count Vivien, Titular Abbot of St. Martin of Tours, dedicating to Charles the Bold 
a Bible written in his Abbey. Charles is seated on his throne, surrounded by his nobles and 
guards. The Abbot comes before him, escorted by ten priests, r'ght and left. Miniature from 
"Charles the Bold's Bible," Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. National Library, Paris. 

1000, and, amidst the cares of public life, finding time to cultivate the 
sciences, a gifted dialectician, well versed in mathematics and physics, and 
inventor of an hydraulic organ and clock. The learning and good fortune 

PHILOSOPHIC scn-:xc/-:s. 47 


of Gerbert made such an impression upon the popular mind that he was 
reputed to have sold himself to the 'devil. 

Towards the middle of the twelfth century there were some symptoms 
of the change which was coming over men's minds, and which was destined 
to profit both sacred study and secular science. 

A discussion took place as to the -dogma of the Eucharist. It was com- 
menced by the Archdeacon Beranger, a native of Tours, who denied that in 
the sacrament the bread and wine were transformed into the body and blood 
of Christ. The doctrine of Bt 5 ranger was reproved by the whole Church ; 
several councils condemned it, amongst the fiercest of its adversaries being 
Lanfranc of Paris, Archbishop of Canterbury. 

Beranger had represented reason as having confidence in herself, and 
being more disposed to follow, in the interpretation of the Christian mysteries, 
her own lights than mere tradition. Faith docile, humble, and submissive, 
but faith making an effort to arrive at an understanding of Divine truth was 
represented by the pious and illustrious St. Anselm, the successor of Lanfranc 
at Canterbury. Amongst other works, St. Anselm has bequeathed to us the 
"Monologium" and the "Prologium," in which, without resorting to the scho- 
lastic formulae, and without going back to Holy Writ for any important proofs, 
he demonstrates the existence and the attributes of God by the very idea of 
God, and the logical sequence of that idea. This is the argument which, 
five hundred years afterwards, runs through the philosophy of Descartes. 
The works of St. Anselm earned for him the title of the second St. Augustine. 

But at the same period there arose a controversy, wholly philosophical in 
appearance, but which had a close affinity with theology, as to the nature of 
general and universal ideas that is to say, of the ideas which can be applied 
to several things ; as, for instance, the idea of humanity applies to all men. 
Are general ideas merely convenient formulae for abridging mental effort and 
assisting the memory? or is there, apart from special ideas, a distinct 
essence, an unchangeable model of their common characteristics, and the 
expression of which in the intelligence is an idea or notion of the same kind 
that is to say, general ? The question was raised from the very earliest times, 
and Plato had decided it in the sense of the reality of ideas : it was handed 
down to the Middle Ages by the books of Aristotle, or rather by those of 
Porphyrius, his interpreter; and, after having long been dormant in the 
schools, solved now in one sense, now in another, it acquired, towards the 


close of the eleventh century, an extraordinary importance, when a canon of 
Compiegne, Roscelin, maintained that all reality is in the individual ; that 
general ideas, or the itnirersafs, as they were then called, have no real object ; 
that they are purely verbal abstractions, mere words, noniinn; whence the term 
nominalism applied to this doctrine. His opponents, who attributed to the 
universal? a certain amount of reality, were called realists. Roscelin, applying 
his theory to the dogma of the Trinity, argued that the three Divine Persons, 
having only in common the resemblance or identity of power and will, 
constitute three distinct beings, and, so to speak, three Gods. 

St. Anselm protested, in the name of the Church, against this interpre- 
tation of the dogma, of which it was the negation. Condemned in 1092 by 
the Council of Soissons, Roscelin retracted ; but the discussion which he 
had raised was destined to last a long time. The school was divided into 
two camps : upon the one side the nominalists who, in presence of the 
anathema launched against Roscelin, scarcely dared to avow their opinions ; 
upon the other the realists, amongst whom may be mentioned, besides 
St. Anselm, Odo of Cambrai, Hildebert of Lavardin, and William of Cham- 
peaux. The last mentioned, who died Bishop of Chalons-sur-Marne in 1120, 
expounded the doctrine of realism in the schools of Paris, at the cloister of 
Notre- Dame, and at the Abbey of St. Victor. The original part of his 
teaching was the theory of the universal. He maintained that as the 
universal is the primitive substance properly so called, individuals are merely 
modalities or fashions of being, who manifest themselves, soon to disappear, 
upon the surface of the unique and indivisible subject. Pressing the con- 
sequences of his system a little further, he would have been brought to deny 
human personality and liberty an error from which he was saved by the 
sincerity of his religious faith. William of Champeaux none the less 
recognised reason as the arbiter of natural philosophy, and his disciple, 
Bernard of Chartres, declared that human thought is an emanation of the 
Divine thought. 

Pierre Abelard had at first followed the lessons of William of Champeaux, 
but he afterwards declared against him and the realist doctors in a public 
course of philosophy which he commenced on his own account, without any 
patronage sine magistro, as his rivals tauntingly said. From the very first 
his success was so great that thousands of enthusiastic hearers assembled to 
listen to his arguments and embrace his doctrine. He outdid his predecessors 


in subtlety, boldness of thought, and especially in eloquence ; he carried all 
his hearers with him ; uiid his system, which was but another form of 
nominalism, was generally accepted in the schools, and received the name of 
Conceptumalism, It consists in the argument that the universals are neither 
realities, as asserted by the realists, nor mere words, as the nominalists would 
have it, but conceptions of the intelligence, which, having observed the 
resemblance that several individuals have to one another, resumes these 
resemblances in a notion which it extends to all these individuals. There 
exist only in nature individuals ; the only reality of general qualities them- 
selves is in the individuals which possess them ; but, in presence of 
individual objects, there is the thought which perceives their relations to one 
another, which extracts from them what they have in common with each 
other, and which thus engenders the notion of kind and species ; in a word, 
the universals. 

If Abelard had confined hiniself to propounding this theory, he would 
have, in all probability, escaped the censure of the Church and some of the 
troubles of his after-life. But, like Roscelin, he claimed to apply his 
philosophic doctrine to the interpretation of the mystery of the Trinity. Like 
Roscelin, he failed, was condemned by two councils, and ended his days, 
repentant and submissive, at the Abbey of Cluny. 

While Abelard was going astray in the paths of a perilous theology, 
other masters who believed themselves to be wiser than he was, carried away 
in their turn, struck upon the same shoal. One of them, Gilbert de la 
Porree, was at first well received by the Church, for, notwithstanding the 
boldness of his doctrine, he was raised to the bishopric of Poitiers. He had 
been an ardent adversary of the opinions of the nominalists, but without 
declaring himself openly for the realists. His realism consisted in supposing 
that if " the generation of things began from the moment that the breath of 
the Creator produced motion, the primordial forms have not, however, been 
altered in their nature by the new act which produced the second forms ; 
thus the primitive and real substances of the air, of fire, of water, of the 
earth, of humanity, of corporeity, &c., have been, are, and ever will be in 
themselves permanent, immovable, separate from the subaltern substances or 
born forms, which communicate the essence to the sentient phenomena " 
(Fig. 38). According to Gilbert, it is form which gives being. The 
principle of the common essence that is to say, of the species or kind will 


/'////. osoi'lin ' .SY / A'.vr '/.A 

not In- ;i negation, like the ni/it-t/i/t'<-rn,,;*, hut ;in affirmation, like the 
'niifdftiiih/. J5ut gradually far-seeing minds, alarmed by the novelty of these 
theories, grew apprehensive as to the consequences which they might have 
upon the faith. Gilbert de la Porree had not hesitated to declare that the 
Mpeaoe being, in the order of generation, above the substance, the Diriiiity 
must be something superior to the individual of the Divine system, who, in 

Fig. 39. The Tree of Beings and of Substances. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving of the 
" Cuer de Philosophic," translated from Latin into French, at the request of Philippe le Bel, 
King of France. Printed at Paris for Julian de la Garde, bookseller, in 1514. 

human language, is called God. This declaration caused great scandal ; the 
author of it was accused of blasphemy against the Divine Persons, and was 
cited to appear before an ecclesiastical tribunal at Rheims (1148), and answer 
the accusation which was sustained by St. Bernard. He not only expressed 
his regret at having unwittingly propagated perilous doctrines, but he 
retracted them and abjured his errors. St. Bernard insisted that these 


doctrines should be solemnly condemned, declaring that they were culpable, 
inasmuch as they might have troubled innocent consciences (Fig. 39). 

In spite of the perils which the abuse of reasoning might entail upon the 
faith, Peter, surnamed the Lombard, who was Bishop of Paris in 1159, 
furnished abundant material for his controversy in his book " Les Sentences," 

Fig. 40. Plenary Court of Dame Justice. An Allegory referring to Book V. of Aristotle's 
" Ethics." Upon the pendants are inscribed " Fortitude," " Private Justice," " Legal 
Justice," " Mansuetudo," " Eutrepelie," " Distributive Justice," "Commutative Justice." 
Miniature of a Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century. Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

a vast collection of extracts from the writings of the fathers on the principal 
points of metaphysics and Christian morality. The author obtained the name 
of Maitre des Sentences, and his work became the basis of theological teaching, 
and no other work, perhaps, except the Bible, has had so many interpreters. 
John of Salisbury, whom Louis le Jeune raised, in 1176, to the bishopric of 


Chartres, had attended in his youth all the principal masters of his time, 

and had not attached himself to any of their schools. A man of refined 
mind, a gifted writer, a great admirer of antiquity, ho had no inclination for 
the frigid subtleties of the logicians of his day, and though he was animated 
by a sincerely religious faith, he inclined towards scepticism in philosophy. 

The abuses of dialectics encountered a fierce opposition from two monks of 
the Abbey of St. Victor, Hugh, and Richard, his disciple, both of whom 
were familiar with the profane sciences, and, to a certain extent, friends of 
philosophy, but both the declared adversaries of arid speculations, and 
partisans of that method which raises us to God less by the light of the mind 
than by that of the heart, less by reason than by faith and love. They were, 
in the twelfth century, the representatives of Catholic mysticism. 

At that time, however, Christian Europe had not got beyond the logical 
works of Aristotle ; but at the close of the twelfth century the " Physics," the 
" Metaphysics," and the "Ethics "'of that great philosopher travelled westward. 
They found their way into the Catholic Universities in Latin translations, some 
from the Greek text, others from the Arabic version which had long been 
employed in the Mahometan schools. To these translations must be added 
the commentaries from the pens of Arab writers. The unlooked-for appear- 
ance of these monuments of the philosophical genius of Greece and of the 
East made a profound impression upon men's minds. Some men lost their 
heads, such as Amaury de Bene, David of Dinant, and their disciples, a great 
number of whom perished at the stake, victims of their errors and of the alarm 
they had caused in the ranks of Christian society. Others, more circumspect, 
more attached to tradition, endeavoured to turn to the profit of religion 
these treatises and commentaries, hitherto unknown, which had enriched the 
literature of the West. They sought to discover in them truths which the 
Church was accustomed to teach, and which they set to work to advocate 
(Fig. 40). The "Physics" and "Metaphysics," first of all proscribed, gradually 
became, for the most pious of the doctors, subjects of assiduous study and the 
source from which they drew a part of their doctrines. Alexander of Hales, 
surnamed the Irrefutable Doctor, who died in 1245, was one of the most able 
interpreters of the philosophy of Aristotle. After him, William of 
Auvergne, who had studied the philosophers of the Neo-Platonist school of 
Alexandria and the Arab philosophers, employed his theological erudition in 
combating the erroneous consequences which the modern partisans of these 



Fig. 41. The Hour of Death. Allegoric Miniature placed at the beginning of the Service for 
the Dead in a "Liber Horarum." Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. The Library of 
11. Ambroise Firmin-Didot. 

The sinner, at the point of death, with his sins staring him in the face, turns away from 
them to listen, but too late, to the advice of his good angel ; his conscience, black with his 
faults, reminds him of them all, and remorse like a serpent is devouring his heart. He 
remains suspended between hell, a monster vomiting flames and awaiting bis prey, and God, 
who with his right hand threatens him with his justice, and with his left expresses his desire 
to show mercy. 

riirf.osopnrc scn-:.\c/-:s. S5 


philosophers had drawn from their doctrine. He was raised to the see of Paris, 
which he occupied until his death (1249); and his episcopacy, which did 
honour to the Church, also rendered good service to the cause of sound 

Another doctor of that time, Jean de la Rochelle, who acknowledged 
Avicenna as his master, wrote a "Treatise on the Soul," which ranks as one 
of the principal monuments of philosophy in the thirteenth century. 

The appeal-nice of a man not less remarkable for his genius than for his 
learning, and who renewed and extended the course of teaching by intro- 
ducing into it the experimental study of nature, was Albertus Magnus, whose 
reputation spread through France, Germany, and Italy. Born at Lauingen, 
in Swaliia, in 1 l!Ki, and belonging to an old family in that country, he com- 
menced his studies at Padua ; and from thence he proceeded to the schools of 
Bologna and Paris, in order to perfect himself in all the sciences by attending 
the lectures of the best masters. 'At the age of twenty-nine he joined the 
Order of St. Dominic, and was immediately commissioned by his superiors to 
go and teach philosophy in the. Dominican house at Cologne. He returned 
to Paris in 1228, and was received Doctor. There he opened, at the 
Monastery of the Preaching Brothers in the Rue St. Jacques, a public course 
of lectures, which inaugurated the success of the Dominican school. " From 
all parts," says M. Haureau, " people flocked to his lectures, and the students 
would not listen to anybody but this insignificant-looking man, worn to a 
skeleton by study, but for whom, as it seemed, neither heaven nor earth had 
any secrets ; whose learning was, compared with that of others, like the light 
of the sun to the flickering fires of a burnt-out lamp ; and whose eloquence 
ravished all who heard him, communicating to them the divine passion for 
knowledge." Appointed Provincial of the Dominicans in Germany, Albert 
was compelled to abandon his teaching in order to visit the monasteries of 
his order, travelling on foot, and subsisting on alms. He had the good 
fortune to discover in the libraries of these monasteries several ancient works 
which he had thought lost : he had them copied out under his own eyes, and 
thus saved many precious relics of Latin antiquity. He was summoned to 
Rome by Pope Alexander IV., who conferred upon him the freedom of the 
sacred palace, and soon afterwards raised him to the episcopacy. But 
Albert, after holding the bishopric of Ratisbon for three years, resigned his 
charge in order to resume his favourite studies, and returned to the monastery 


of the Dominicans at Cologne, where he opened a fresh course of teaching. 
His contemporaries surnamed him the Universal Doctor; and when he died in 
1280, aged eighty-seven, he left behind him countless works upon every 
branch of human learning amongst others, some voluminous commentaries 
on all the books of Aristotle. 

Albertus Magnus has erroneously been classed amongst the realists ; he 
belonged rather to the nominalists, having declared in favour of the doctrine 
of Abelard upon the principal questions which excited the controversy of 
the schools. Thus, far from considering the kinds and species as substances, 
he looked upon them as essential modes, as manners of being inherent in the 

Fig. 42. Seal of the Faculty of Theology 
of Paris (Fourteenth Century). 

Fig. 43. Counter-Seal of the University 
of Paris (Fourteenth Century). 

substance of individuals. He denned, after the fashion of the nominalists, 
the things which are the object of empirical research ; that is to say, the 
beings which together make up the universe. Albertus Magnus was never 
persecuted, or even looked upon with suspicion, because of his doctrines ; he 
had the good sense to stop short at the limits beyond which lay heresy. His 
doubts and indecision began at the point where it was dangerous to follow up 
the argument, and to resolve problems which the Church will not allow to 
be approached except by the foot of faith. 

These problems the great St. Thomas Aquinas, the pupil and contem- 
porary of Albertus Magnus, brought, so to speak, within the limits of 


orthodoxy, and, starting from well-understood principles, deduced from them 
their ultimate consequences by the superiority of his dialectical method. 
This method enabled him to range his opinions and judgments in logical order, 
and at the same time saved him from taking a single step in the direction 
of heresy. His " Somme de Theologie " and his " Somme contre les Gentils " 
rank with the most remarkable productions of human genius. The precision 
and surety with which the author of these two works maintained his balance 
amidst the mazes of the questions involved are something marvellous. St. 
Thomas Aquinas was born at Naples in 1227, upon the territory of Aquino, 
from which he derived his name, and he was only thirteen years of age when 
he completed his studies at the school of Naples. The Preaching Brothers 
of that city induced him to join their order, notwithstanding the efforts of 
his family, which was both noble and influential, to make him adopt a 
judicial or diplomatic career. After taking the vows, he was sent first to 
Paris, and afterwards to Cologne, where he attended the lectures of Albertus 
Magnus. Thomas was of a pensive and dreamy disposition, talking little, 
and avoiding argument and dispute. His fellow-pupils nicknamed him the 
" Dumb ox of Sicily." His master had one day occasion to question him 
upon several intricate matters in the presence of a numerous audience, and 
Thomas Aquinas answered him with remarkable boldness and accuracy. Albert, 
turning with delight towards the audience, which had listened in silence to 
the able answers of the young Neapolitan, said, " You call Thomas a dumb 
ox, but the day will come when the lowings of his doctrine will be heard 
all over the world." Thomas, eager to learn and study, returned to Paris, 
and again became a student in the house of the Dominican Friars in the Rue 
St . Jacques ; but at the expiration of three years he was recalled to Cologne 
by his esteemed master, with whom he studied for another four years sciences 
of all kinds, sacred science in particular. In 1248, when Albertus became the 
Provincial of his order in Germany, Thomas returned to Paris, to the house 
in the Rue St. Jacques where he had already learnt so many useful lessons, 
and it was there that he completed his theological studies by a commentary 
on Pierre Lombard's " Sentences." After being received Doctor, he began his 
lessons, in which he developed with marvellous lucidity the various parts of 
his " Sum of Theology," which became the basis of his great reputation. He 
continued his teaching to large audiences for many years, and he wrote 
without intermission a vast number of theological treatises, forming altogether 


eighteen folio volumes. The University of Paris had adopted him as one of 
her sons, and was proud of being able to own him as such. But Charles of 
Anjou, King of Naples, was anxious to place him at the head of that Univer- 
sity, and induced Pope Clement IV. (Fig. 44) to recall him to Italy. Thomas 
Aquinas reluctantly obeyed, for he was in declining health, and afflicted with 
premature infirmities. The frequent journeys which he had been obliged to 
take in the interests of the Church added to his fatigues, and while on his 

Fig. 44. Portrait of Clement IV. Fresco Painting, on gold ground, in Mosaic, in the 
Basilica of St. Paul-without-the- Walls at Rome (Thirteenth Century). 

way to the Council of Lyons, in 1274, he was compelled to break the journey 
near Terracina, at a Cistercian monastery, where he died, after a few days' 
illness, at the age of forty-eight. 

Thomas Aquinas, whom the Church afterwards placed amongst her saints, 
left the highest reputation behind him in the Paris schools. He was called 
the Second St. Augustine, the Angel of the Schools, the Angelic Doctor, the 
Doctor of Doctors. In fact, his was the only theology taught in most of the 
Catholic schools subsequently to the thirteenth century. 

Fig. 45 St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, wearing the dress of his order under his episcopal 
cape, surrounded by monks to whom he is giving the books of prayer. At his feet is Aristotle, 
holding in his right hand n pendant upon which is written, "Dicimus mnndum esse ternum. 
non haliere principium, ncque finem." Aristotle declares the eternity of matter, a doctrine 
refuted hy St. Augustine. From a Picture in the Campana Museum. Italian School of the 
Fifteenth CVntiirv. 


However, the scholastic spirit had not quenched the ardour for research, 
and St. Thomas, notwithstanding his immense authority, had more than one 
opponent. The dispute took place, it is true, upon the ground of philosophy, 
between the Orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis. Alhertus Magnus, by 
declaring himself the enemy of the realists, had excited the hostility of the 
Franciscans, who adhered to the opinion of their first doctor, Alexander of 
Hales. St. Thomas, out of respect for his master, Albert, had joined the 
camp of the nominalists, but he was often at variance with them, and could 
not follow Albert the Great in all his conclusions of doctrine. Thus, not- 
withstanding his deep study of the natural sciences, he had less inclination 
for physics than for metaphysics, and his favourite subjects of discussion were 
those relating to the spiritual substance, its faculties, its functions, and its 
acts. When it was a question of explaining the nature of ideas, he inclined 
towards realism. A disciple of St. Augustine, and, through him, of Plato, 
he held that ideas are distinct forms, which exist in permanency in the Divine 
intellect ; they are, according to him, substantial entities forming part of 
a world which is the pattern of the external and the intellectual world 
(Fig. 45). 

The philosophical doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas was not attacked in 
earnest until after his death, though the questions were mooted while he was 
alive. Henry of Ghent and Roger Bacon had warmly espoused the cause of 
the Franciscans and the doctrine of Alexander of Hales, which was pure 
realism. St. Bonaventure (Fig. 46), who died at about the same time as 
St. Thomas Aquinas, had waged war more against rationalism than nomi- 
nalism. He belonged to the Order of St. Francis, and he had certain mystic 
tendencies, urging his hearers to avoid the schools and despise science. The 
detractors of philosophy ranged themselves to the banner of John of Wales, 
who was also a Franciscan ; and this was not the only defection in their 
ranks, for Richard of Middleton professed nominalism at the University of 
Paris, but he met a stout adversary in William of Lamarre, who advocated 
the Franciscan doctrine against the Dominicans. And so the struggle went 
on. The best supporter of the doctrine of St. Thomas was his pupil and 
fellow-countryman, Egidio Colonna, who acquired in this war of the schools 
the curious nickname of Doctor fundamcntanm, his partisans having 
ascribed to him the honour of having laid the foundation of nominalist 

/'////. OSOPH/C SC/XXTKs. 


The Franciscans got the best of the dispute, under the leadership of one 
of the most celebrated masters of his time, the formidable opponent of the 

Fig. 46. St. Bonaventure. From a Fresco Painting by John of Florence, in the Chapel of 
Nicholas V. at the Vatican (Fifteenth Century). 

school of St. Thomas. This was the doughty Duns Scotus, who was surnamod 
the Htibtlc Doctor, and whom the Franciscans called the Column, the Torch, 


the ever-shining Star of Science. lie was born in 1274, in the British Isles 
in England according to some, in Ireland according to others ; but the pro- 
bability is, as his name implies, that he was Scotch. Tie donned the garb of 
St. Francis before going to study at Morton College, Oxford, and his talents 
at first lay in the direction of mathematics. But he soon filled the chair of 
philosophy in the college where he had completed his classes, and thousands 
of pupils assembled to hear him (Fig* 47). He studied theology, and 
obtained his doctor's degree at Paris, and the superior of the Franciscans 
sent him to Cologne, where he taught both theology and philosophy. He 
died in 1308, at the early age of thirty-four, leaving behind him an enormous 
mass of philosophical treatises, which were not collated till the seventeenth 
century, when they were published in twenty-five folio volumes. 

Albertus Magnus had sought in natural philosophy the fundamental basis 
of knowledge, and St. Thomas thought that it was to be found in theology, 
while Duns Scotus endeavoured to trace it back to logic. According to him, 
syllogism is the sole rule of certainty. But, as M. Ilaureau remarks, starting 
from this principle, the journey is full of perils. ])uns Scotus, in fact, 
was very near falling into them, and only escaped by taking refuge behind 
the qujbbles of sophistry. He was, nevertheless, a firm believer and full 
of piety, and it was from his ardour in dialectics that he was led to uphold 
the most extreme views of the realists. In his researches into the distinct 
nature of every compound, he endeavoured to extract from it the various 
qualities which he found inherent in or adherent to the same subject. In this 
way he looked upon matter separated from all form, form separated from all 
matter, or merely matter separated from certain forms, and at the same time 
united to certain others. Each of these notions, each of these distinct 
conceptions, he made to correspond with a nature, an existence of its own- 
It was to obscure and intangible lucubrations such as these that scholasticism 
devoted voluminous treatises, which led to passionate discussion, and which 
were the main subject of conversation amongst the students while they were 
pacing up and down the Pre-aux-Clercs (Fig. 47). 

The champions of St. Thomas and Duns Scotus waged war against each 
other for several centuries in the vague domain of obscure abstractions. 
Alexander of Hales was superseded by Duns Scotus, as represented by his 
disciples and followers, viz. Francois de Mayronis (surnamcd the Enlightened 
Doctor), Antonio Andrea, John Bassolius, and I'ietro d'Aquila (Fig. 48). The 


Dominicans did not give up the contest, and St. Thomas had many fervent 
and eloquent successors. " In order to avoid being accused of betraying 
their cause," says M. Haureau, " all Franciscans were obliged to declare 
against St. Thomas, and all Dominicans against Duns Scotus. The few 
exceptions were denounced as schismatics. Thus, for instance, Pierre 
(PAuriol, surnamed in the University of Paris the Eloquent Doctor, was, 
although a Franciscan, one of the nominalists. A dialectician of the first 
rank, he attacked without mercy psychological realism in St. Thomas, 
and did not spare the natural species, the image-ideas of his school. This 
fierce controversy, which indirectly attacked the dpctrine of Duns Scotus, 
caused great excitement in the ranks of the realists, most of whom belonged 
to the Order of Franciscans. Upon the other hand, the secession of Durand 
de St. Pourcain, called the Very Resolute Doctor, who, while professing 
philosophy, forgot that he was a Dominican and upheld the doctrines of 
Duns Scotus, was a gain to the Franciscans. M. Haureau says, " From this 
epoch, the 'fact of belonging to one particular order in religion ceased to 
imply implicit obedience to any one philosophical sect ; the ties of discipline 
were loosened, and though the two schools still existed, each individual took 
up the position which seemed best in his own eyes." 

It was" from England, once more, that came the next celebrity of scholas- 
ticism. William of Ockham, born in the town from which he took his 
name, was a pupil of Duns Scotus, and proved worthy of his great master, 
After having passed his youth with the Dominican Friars at Guildford, he 
repaired to Paris, where he found more scope for expounding his doctrine of 
nominalism. At first he had upheld the realist doctrines of his master, 
but the force of logic drove him into the opposite camp. His system is best 
described in the words of M. Haureau, who says that William of Ockham, 
by an analysis of the faculty of knowledge, saw that it was seconded by the 
intuitive, which we call perception, and by the abstractive, which we call 
abstraction. With these two energies correspond the simple ideas which 
the view of tangible objects affords us, and the compound ideas which 
the intelligence forms by comparison, by abstraction. William of Ockham 
further demonstrated that the realists, having misapprehended human intelli- 
gence in its manner of being and its manner of action, had fallen into a pro- 
found error in their definition of Divine Intelligence. God is the name of the 
mystery ; everybody can see and judge his works ; nobody can appreciate 


the nature of God. Realism, therefore, has committed a grave and dangerous 
error in attempting to explain the' nature of Divine ideas. God imagined 
the world before creating it: St. Augusti7ie has stated this ; but is it necessary 
to go any further? Why people the thought of God with element*, and 
inti'lliijibles, and spiritual atoms ? To credit God himself with all these 
imaginary things, does not this imply the placing of limits and bounds upon 
his omnipotent will, and submitting Him, by analogy, to the same conditions 

Fig. 48. Italian Doctors (Fifteenth Century). Miniature of " The Life of St. Catherine of 
Sienna." Manuscript in the Paris National Library. 

as his creatures ? Is it becoming to reduce the nature of God to a concep- 
tion derived from experience, formed by human reason, representing a sum of 
qualities abstract from things, but not defining the pure essence of God, 
inasmuch as that mysterious essence escapes by its very nature all the investi- 
gations of intuitive energy ? Such was the principal thesis of "William of 
Ockham, who was the most thorough-going interpreter of nominalism during 
the Middle Ages, 


This great doctor was not attacked by the Sorbonne, though he had many 
formidable adversaries, but his attitude towards the Papacy, with reference to 
the dispute between Philippe le Bel and Boniface VIII., marked him out for 
the resentment and vengeance of the Court of Rome. lie had sided with 
the French king, and was well seconded by Michael de Ceseiie, General of the 
Franciscans, when he continued his aggressive attacks against John XXII. 
and the Papal power. The Pope resented the attack, not so much in his 
individual capacity as in that of Vicar of Christ, and he summoned William 
of Ockham and Michael de Cesene to Avignon, where the Holy See had fixed 
its residence during the establishment of an antipope at Rome. The two 
Franciscans, having obeyed the order, were cast into prison, and their trial bid 
fair to result in summary punishment ; but they managed to escape to Aigues- 
Mprtes, where they were received on board a vessel belonging to Louis of Bavaria. 
Welcomed by him, they ended their days in obscurity within his dominions. 

The doctrine of AVilliam of Ockham survived him in the schools, and the 
doctors who endeavoured to oppose it had few followers. Walter Burleigh 
himself, notwithstanding his courageous endeavours to revive the cause of 
realism, could not secure any attention. The nominalists were everywhere 
the most numerous and the most zealous. Their masters were esteemed doctors, 
doughty dialecticians, evangelic and zealous party leaders ; such as Robert 
Holcot, Thomas of Strasburg, Jean Buridan, and Pierre d'Ailly. Most of 
them were professors, and their teaching acquired them influence and renown. 

Above all these discordant doctrines there rose the venerable voice of 
Jean Charlier de Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris, who, pro- 
testing against the abuses of dialectics, said, " Let us put an end to frivolous 
disputes ; let us make use of Reason solely in order to arrive at the truth, 
which it cannot do without the aid of Faith. It is the rule of Faith that we 
need follow, and if some refractory or stubborn minds still cling to the 
quibbles of philosophy, let us deplore their being led astray, and humbly seek 
in the bosom of the Church, far from the schools, peace, light, and life." 
This touching appeal, by one who well deserved the title of Evangelical and 
Very Christian Doctor, for a return to mystic theology (Fig. 49) did not find 
an echo in many minds ; it did not prevent the young from being led away in 
the heat of dialectics, and siding with the philosophers of logic. 

But all these systems, springing from logic pursued to its final limits, 
were destined to fall of themselves, involving in their ruin that of nearly all 

m& ' - 

ii;. I!). Miniature of the "City of God," by St. Augustine, translated by Raoul de Presles. Manuscript 
of the Fifteenth Century. St. Genevieve Library. The upper enclosure represents the saints who have 
been already received into heaven ; the seven lower enclosures represent those who are preparing them- 
selves, by the exercise of Christian virtues, for the heavenly kingdom, or who are excluding themselves 
from it by committing one or other of the seven capital sins. 


their champions. The triumph of nominalism completed the discomfiture 
of scholasticism, which was no longer so popular in the Universities, and 
which was gradually being confined to the cloisters. It may be added that 
the struggle between the rival schools was much abated by the discovery of 
printing ; for, owing to this invention, which was called divine, the works of 
ancient philosophy, which had been used as texts for the oral teaching of the 
professors, became multiplied amongst the friends of science. These printed 
books, making their way everywhere, were calculated to take the place of the 
lessons which students had previously come to learn at the Universities famous 
for. the ability of their masters of dialectics. As M. Haureau very justly 
observes, " Before the invention of printing, students learnt the lessons of 
science from one master, and nearly always became his partisans : to quit one 
school for another required no common degree of courage. But afterwards 
students were enabled, before making their choice, to weigh the merits of ten 
masters at -a time." These masters were the books issued from the presses in 
every country of Europe (Fig. 51). 

The philosophy of the Renaissance was just coming into existence when the 
fugitive Greeks, after the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, imported 
into Italy manuscripts containing the works of Plato and of philosophers of 
the Alexandrian school. These works, which it was believed had been lost, 
and of which only a vague recollection had been preserved by tradition, were 
welcomed in the middle of the fifteenth century with even more respect and 
enthusiasm than the books of Aristotle had been in the twelfth century. 
The comparison of ancient philosophy with the scholasticism of the more 
modern schools was not to the advantage of the latter, which seemed too 
narrow, too obscure, and too servile. The writings of Plato gave a better 
idea of the opinions of Heraclitus and Pythagoras, and opened new vistas to 
many minds which were eager to shake off all bon<}s, and to emerge from the 
paths in which theology had been guiding them for the last four or five 
centuries (Fig. 50). 

This period of philosophical renovation began by a sharp discussion 
between two Grecian philosophers of Constantinople, Gemistes Plethoii and 
Theodoros de Gaza : the first a fanatical partisan of the Alexandrian school 
of Plotinus, the second a faithful votary of Aristotle. The old scholasticism 
was dead ; the chairs which it formerly had at Florence and the great cities 
of Italy were tenanted by the new doctors, who expounded the principles of 



Plato and Aristotle. The names talked of in the schools were those of 
Ermolao Barbara, Angelo Politien, and Lorenzo Valla. A student of Louvain, 
Rudolph Agricola, came to take lessons from these illustrious masters, and 
returned to Flanders to propagate their doctrines. In Spain, as in France, 
these doctrines, taken from the ancient philosophers of Greece and of Egypt, 
were hailed with unanimous enthusiasm. The University of Paris was 
powerless to arrest this stream of novelties which the Italian Renaissance 

Fig. 50. Bachelors of the Faculty of Theology, and Professors of the Faculties of 
Theology, Jurisprudence, and Medicine at the University of Pont-a-Mousson. From 
the Funeral of Henry II., Duke of Lorraine, by Claude de la Ruelle. National 
Library, Paris. Cabinet of Engravings. 

poured upon the West. There was an end to schools and to discipline; 
license, anarchy, and confusion reigned supreme. 

Upon the one hand, Nicholas de Cusa declared with Pythagoras that 
knowledge is hidden in the mysterious notion of numbers, and he went so 
far as to represent the Divine Essence as an harmonious centre in which all 
differences are blended. Upon the other hand, Marsilius Ficinus, who died in 
1499, founded a Platonist academy, and, under colour of explaining the Holy 



Gospels, he worshipped exclusively his divine Plato. Then, again, we have 
the infant prodigy, Jean Pic de la Mirandola, who, after having studied all 
the sciences known at that time, and after having, at the age of three-and- 
twenty, argued the thesis " De omni re scibili," endeavoured to reconcile the 
philosophy of Aristotle and Plato by the aid of wild cabalistic and astro- 
logical evocations. This was the origin of a new school of cabalists, 
magicians, and astrologers. They were, no doubt, consummate men of 
learning, those Germans and Italians (Fig. 52), who sought to bring to the 
light of day the material and immaterial arcana of nature. Thus, Jean 
Reuchlin associated in his writings cabalism and scholasticism. George of 
Venice held that in the mysteries of generation and of life substance is the 
unique and absolute being, the only God. Paracelsus, who is 
no other than Philip Bombastes of nohenhehn, mixing metaphysics willi 
physics like two medical substances, affirmed that God, of whom he made the 
principle of universal life, has united the body and the soul by an animal 
fluid. There was a wide interval between these vain musings and the safe 
doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas, or the dialectical abstractions of Duns Scotus. 

Aristotle still had followers who alleged that they remained faithful to 
his doctrine, but the general tendency of the time carried them over the 
precipice. Peter Pomponacius of Mantua (born in 1462, died in 1526) 
announced that he took his stand upon peripateticism, but he raised a very 
dangerous question by inquiring whether or not Aristotle admitted the 
principle of the immortality of the soul. He concluded in the negative, 
adding that reason and faith must supplement the silence of the master in 
this respect. This reverse was not taken any account of by his adversaries, 
who reproached him, the one side with outraging Aristotle, and denounced 
him as a heretic ; the other side with having made a treacherous use of the 
doctrines of peripateticism to advance an abominable heresy. Pomponacius 
had, notwithstanding, many devoted followers, who went more or less astray 
in the occult sciences or in scholasticism, amongst them being Augustine 
Niphus of Calabria, and Julius Caesar Scaliger of Padua. 

As to scholasticism, the aberration of its opponents obtained for it several 
ardent champions. Such were Thomas de Tio, surnamed Cajetan, bom in 
1469, who became cardinal, after having professed the philosophy of 
St. Thomas ; his pupil, Lconicus Thomsons of Venice, who devoted all his 
energies to the restoration of pure logic, which was neither more nor less 

/'////. ( iso I'll 1C SCIENCES. 

than the doctrine of Aristotle; James Zabarella of Padua, who was fully 
versed in all the great philosophers 'of the thirteenth century, and who sought 
to make them harmonize with Aristotle. 

These in their turn were succeeded by the old Arab commentators of the 
books of Aristotle, Averroes in particular; Aehillini of Bologna, and 
Xabarella merely reproduced the opinions of the last named. But the most 
illustrious of the new Averroists was Jerome Cardan of Pavia, that great 
genius who, by the elevation to which he raised all the sciences, became the 

Fig. 51. Dame Philosophy. Miniature of the " Treasure," hy Brunetto Latini. 
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. The Arsenal Library. 

wonder of his century. M. Haureau says of him, " This man, whose mind, 
enthusiastic, restless, and incapable of repose, welcomed all doctrines of every 
kind, was the slave of every system in turn ; first worshipping, then insulting 
all the gods, even the god of conscience ; he was not an individual, he was a 
whole generation of philosophers." He had more play of mind than of 
judgment, and his inconsiderate ardour, regulated neither by good sense nor 
by a sincere faith, led him into the most monstrous anomalies. Like 
Averroes and all the pantheists, he upheld the double principle of the 


unity of substance and the unity of motion. He was accused of being an 
atheist, but he dissembled his real opinions so well that he was pensioned by 
the Pope, and died at Rome (1576), drawing horoscopes and selling elixirs. 

This same school naturally produced several lunatics and victims of 
hallucination, some inclining to pantheism, and others to scepticism, the 
latter having studied medicine and the former scholasticism before they were 
smitten with a desire to know and to define the essence of God and the 
essence of the soul. Andrew Cesalpin of Arezzo, who had been physician to 
Pope Clement VIII., was, upon good grounds, suspected of pantheism, and 
even of atheism, for having maintained with Averroes that God was not so 
much the cause as the substance of all things. Notwithstanding the errors 
contained in his works, he escaped all persecution, and died a Christian death 
at Rome in 1603. But the unhappy Jordano Bruno, a Dominican monk, 
was less fortunate than Andrew Cesalpin. Possessed of talents more prolific 
than judicious, endowed with a brilliant imagination, and carrying his 
confidence to the point of presumption, Bruno, who had already been 
denounced for the boldness of his systems, was about to be proceeded against 
by the ecclesiastical authorities when he fled into Naples. He wandered 
from city to city during twenty years, and printed at London, Paris, and 
Frankfort several philosophical treatises, in which he attacked both the 
Catholic dogma and the doctrine of Aristotle. His boldness proved fatal to 
him, and, having the imprudence to return to Italy, the Inquisition caused 
him to be arrested, tried, and condemned to the stake as a relapsed heretic. 
He was burnt at Rome in 1600. 

"While the doctrine of Aristotle was supreme in North Italy, the schools 
of the kingdom of Naples accorded the preference to Plato and to the 
Alexandrian philosophers ; but whether under the auspices of Plato or 
Aristotle, it was none the less pantheism which reigned everywhere alike. 
Thus Telesio was pantheist in his chair at Cosenza ; Patrizzi, who occupied 
the chair at Ferrara, was not only a pantheist, but came to profess this 
pagan doctrine in the very University of Rome. The great names of Plato 
and Aristotle served as a cloak for the tendencies of their interpreters. The 
Inquisition did not consider itself called upon to defend the Church against 
science, for the apostles of the Aristotelist and Platonist philosophy had no 
part in the schemes of the heretical innovators. 

It was necessary, however, to select a philosophy for the Lutheran schools. 

/'////. osor/f/< s< '//-:\CES. 

Tlmt of Plato was rejected ; and Mclancthon obtained the adoption of 
tlial ol Aristotle, mid himself prepared, for the teaching of philosophy and in 
conformity with Aristotelian principles, several elementary works which were 
received with merited favour. Erasmus (Fig. 53), who remained a Catholic 
with Lutheran tendencies, also followed the example of Mclanethon, and 
undertook the translation of several treatises of Aristotle, revising them for 
the use of the Bale school. But the philosophy of Aristotle took another 
direction and attained another aim when carried into the Netherlands. The 
Flemish Justus Lipsius, born near Brussels in 1547, followed in the wake of 

Fig. 52. The Natural Sciences in the presence of Philosophy. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving 
attributed to Holbein in the Gorman Translation of the "Consolation of Philosophy," by 
Boethius, Augsburg Edition, 1537, in folio. 

the Stoics, applied their moral philosophy to the theories of pcripatetieisin, 
and did not separate theology from philosophy. Gaspard Scioppius and 
Thomas Gataker were his principal disciples. * 

France also had her share in these philosophical innovations. She had 
been the first home of scholasticism, but the civil and religious wars of the 
sixteenth century had caused an almost total suspension of study. But 
Pierre llamus, more commonly called La Ramee, born in Picardy in 1515, 
set to work to revive (lie teaching of philosophy, condemning Aristotle, and 



recommending his pupils to read Plato. lie endeavoured to make logic 
generally comprehensible by freeing it of sophistical verbiage, and he very 
ingeniously made use of this new logic to inculcate in the minds of his pupils 
the maxims of the Reformation, for he was a Calvinist with fanatical 
tendencies. He was cited before the parliament, not for his religious 
opinions, but for his blasphemies against peripatclicism, and though his trial 

Fig. 53. Portrait of Erasmus, after a Wood Engraving of the Sixteenth Century. 
National Library, Paris. Cabinet of Designs. 

was not of an inquisitorial character, he was condemned, deprived of his 
professor's chair at the Royal College, and compelled to leave the country. 
His implacable enemies, Antonio de Govea, Jacques Charpentier, and others 
saw in him less the Huguenot than the detractor of Aristotle. Ramus, who 
had become the chief of the small school of Ramists, went to lecture in the 

.sv -H:\CES. 


towns OH the bunks of the Rhine. After three years' exile he returned to 
France, and \v;is included in the massacre of St. Bartholomew. His personal 
enemy, Jacques Cliarpentier, of Clerniojit (in the Oise), professor of mathe- 
matics at the Royal College, \v;is accused of having had him massacred by his 
pupils during that terrible night. 

Plato, notwithstanding the efforts of Ramus, had not many followers in 
the University of Paris, where scholasticism endeavoured to regain its sway. 
Aristotle continued to be the favourite of the school, and his philosophical 


Fig. 54. Battle of Beggars and Peasants over a Barrel of Wine in the Chapter headed, " Com- 
ment les vices Be combiittirent les uns aux autres pour les vivres." Miniature of the "Roi 
Modus." Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

predominance was fostered by the decrees of the Parliament and the royal 
ordinances. But the true French spirit was less in the direction of the 
study of logic, even reformed and renewed, than in moral philosophy, 
especially when it had a tendency to be sceptical and sarcastic (Fig. 54). 
Montaigne, at the close of the fifteenth century, was, so to speak, the founder 
of this philosophy, which neither denies nor affirms anything, which calls every- 
thing in question, and makes light of all subjects. He was born at the 


Chateau de Montaigne, in the Perigord, upon the 28th of February, 1533. 
Though he attended all the classes at the College of Bordeaux, he may be 
said to have been self-taught, and to have become a philosopher in his own 
way through his intercourse with the poets, historians, and philosophers of 
antiquity. He delighted in the works of Seneca and Plutarch, but he would 
not "bite his nails over Aristotle, the monarch of modern doctrine." In 
after-years, when he wrote his immortal " Essays," he unhesitatingly declared 
against the dialectics of the schools against every kind of doctrinal teaching. 
" It is pitiable," he writes, " that in our century philosophy should be, even 
for men of intelligence, a vain and fantastic name, which is without use or 
value in opinion or in fact. I believe that sophistry, by choking up the 
approaches to it, is the cause. It is a great mistake to depict it as inacces- 
sible to children, of a forbidding countenance, full of frowns, and fearful to 
look at. Nothing 'can be more cheerful, sprightly, I was almost saying 
frolicsome," Michael de Montaigne inaugurated in France the philosophy 
of the libertines that is to say, of the free-thinkers different in some respects 
from that which Francois Rabelais professed, fifty years before, in his Pantu- 
gruelic works, and which John Calvin denounced as a pagan doctrine, accusing 
the libertines of atheism and impiety. "Scepticism," writes M. Haureau, 
" had the last word in this propaganda in favour of the sprightly and almost 
frolicsome philosophy ; and the young, only too easily led away by such 
remarks, gladly left, under the guidance of this new teacher, the arduous 
paths of study to revel in the intercourse of poets, and to turn the melancholy 
eyebrows of the logicians into derision." 

Fig. 55. Seal of the Faculty of Theology, 

Fig. 56. Seal of the Faculty of Law, 


Ancient Systems of the Planetary World. Ptolemy and Aristarchus of Samos. Boethius, 
Pappus, and Gerbert. Schools of Bagdad. Mathematical School in Spain, Italy, England, 
and France. Astronomical Researches of the Arabs. Roger Bacon and Master Pierre. 
Alhertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas. Progress of Mathematics. Popes and Kings 
protectors of the Exact Sciences. The King of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus. Principal 
Works composed in the Fifteenth Century. Pic Mirandola. Peter Ramus. Tycho Brahe 
and Copernicus. 

S a proof of the forward state of the exact 
sciences in the Middle Ages, it would be 
sufficient to instance a Roman basilica or a 
Gothic cathedral. What immensity and 
depth of mathematical calculations ; what 
knowledge of geometry, statics, and optics ; 
what experience and skill in execution must 
have been possessed by the architects and 
builders in hewing, carving, and fitting the 
stones, in raising them to great heights, in 

constructing enormous towers and gigantic belfries, in forming the 
many arches, some heavy and massive, others light and airy, in com- 
bining and neutralising the thrust of these arches which interlace and 
hide each other up to the very summit of the edifice all as if 
the most complicated science had humbly made herself the servant 
of art, placing no obstacle in the way of its free development ! 

From the commencement of the Middle Ages and henceforward, 
mat hematics were not so much the object of special and public teaching as 
of individual and solitary study, either in the shade of the cloisters or amidst 
associations of artisans who zealously preserved the traditions of their 

In the University centres, as in the Arab and Jewish schools which had 


so much importance, practical science was generally made subordinate to 
speculative science. Thus the theory of the calculus, the formulae of 
algebra, the projections of lines through space, the problems of triangulation, 
were by preference applied to astronomical observations, so that the tran- 
scendental mathematics were always inseparable from astronomy. 

It was as follows that Claudius Ptolemaous, a Greek or Egyptian astro- 
nomer, constituted the mundane system in a " Cosmography " written in 
Greek, which became one of the bases of mathematical and astronomical 
science in the Middle Ages : " The world is divided into two vast regions ; 
the one ethereal, the other elementary. The ethereal region begins with the 
first mover, which accomplishes its journey from east to west in twenty-four 
hours ; ten skies participate in this motion, and their totality comprises the 
double crystalline heaven, the firmament, and the seven planets." According 
to Ptolemaeus, the double crystalline heaven was placed between the first 
mover and the firmament. The elementary region, comprising the four 
elements of fire, air, water, and earth, reigned beneath the cavity of the sky, 
and was subject to the influence of the moon. The terrestrial globe, 
composed of earth and water, existed motionless in the centre of the world, 
and was surrounded by the element of air, in which was mingled that of fire. 

This system was not, however, exclusively adopted by all the philosophers. 
Some of them accorded their preference to the system of Aristarchus of 
Samos, who did not place the earth in the centre of the world, and who 
attributed to it a rotary motion around the sun, which was suspended motion- 
less amidst the planets and the planetary circles. According to Aristarchus 
of Samos, Mercury, the planet which is nearest the sun, completed his motion 
around it in three months, whilst Venus took seven months and a half to 
execute hers. The earth, apart from its motion round the sun in the space 
of a year, effected a second motion, revolving upon its own axis, in the space 
of twenty-four hours, thus causing the succession of day and night. The 
monthly motion of the moon around the earth was accomplished in about 
twenty-seven days. The fourth planet, Mars, took two years to accomplish 
his revolution round the sun*; Jupiter, much farther distant, took twelve 
years, and Saturn thirty. 

The system of Ptolemy eventually triumphed over that of Aristarchus, 
and at the close of the fifth century the great Boethius (Fig. 57), the favourite 
minister of Theodoric the Great, who loved and patronised literature and 

J/,1 /y/A.1/. I TICAL SCIENCES. 


science, made a Latin translation of the " Cosmography," to which he appended 
various mathemathical works, some translated from the Greek, others of his 
own composition, none of which have come down to us. We still possess 
two books on Geometry by Boethius, but we have lost his > Latin translations 
of the treatise of Nicomachus upon Arithmetic, of the " Geometry" of Euclid, 
of a treatise upon the Squaring of the Circle, as also several original treatises 
in which he commented with great erudition on the cosmogonic doctrines of 
Pythagoras and Ptolemy. King Theodoric, who afterwards had him put to a 

Fig. 57. The Planetary Systems. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving attributed to Holbein in the 
German Translation of the " Consolation of Philosophy," by Boethius, Augsburg Edition, 
1537, in folio. 

cruel death (525), at that time wrote to him in the following complimentary 
terms : " By means of your Latin translations, Rome has received from you 
all the sciences and arts which the Greeks had brought to such a high pitch 
of perfection. Those who know both Latin and Greek will prefer your 
translations to the original. The four portions of mathematics have been to 
you a sort of door, as it were, giving admittance to the science of mechanics, 
and this science you have extracted from the very entrails of nature." 

The school of Alexandria was the centre of mathematical studies, and 
Boethius undertook to acquaint the Roman world with the principal works of 


the Greek mathematicians. Pappus, one of the most celebrated, who, at the 
close of the fourth century, formed his mathematical collections, was not 
translated into Latin until the Renaissance. The influence of Boethius upon 
the progress of the exact sciences in Europe was not destined to survive him> 
and for more than two centuries mathematics were applied only to architec- 
ture, hydraulics, and celestial cosmography, with regard to which the most 
absurd notions were entertained. 

However, science was still worthily represented in the schools of Alexandria 
and Constantinople. Two geometers belonging to them, Anthemius of 
Tralles and Eutocius of Ascalon, flourished in the reign of Justinian (527 
565). The former, busying himself more especially with the problems of 
mechanics, contributed to the erection of the basilica of St. Sophia at Con- 
stantinople, and obtained great renown as an architect and sculptor ; the 
latter, by his commentaries on the mathematical writings of Archimedes and 
Apollonius of Perga, made them of practical and general utility. 

But it was in the East, and in the very extreme East, that the pursuit of 
mathematics, applied to the study of astronomy, had acquired the greatest 
impetus. In China the Mandarin Yhiang noted the eclipses, drew up a 
catalogue pf the stars, marked the degrees of longitude, and formed a new 
calendar. In India the first astronomical tables were established by aid of 
the Send-hind, the sacred book of the Brahmins. The Caliph Al-Mansour 
ordered these tables to be translated into Arabic. Following his example, 
the Caliph Haroun Alraschid constituted himself protector of the mathe- 
matical sciences, which fitted in so well with the genius and tendencies of 
his people : he had the books of Euclid, Diophantus, Ptolemy, Pliny, and the 
best mathematicians, astronomers, and cosmographers of Greek and Latin 
antiquity, translated into Arabic and Syriac. Under the Caliphs the school 
of Bagdad attracted an immense number of students, who came to learn the 
exact sciences. Geometry and astronomy were taught concurrently with 
medicine. It is true that, owing to the prejudices from which even the most 
eminent in science were subject, all the powers of calculation were employed 
in the measurement of the sidereal conjunctions, and in stating precisely the 
action of the moon upon the human body and upon the fecundation of germs. 

From Asia Minor, Greece, and Egypt, the exact sciences passed to the 
Arab schools of Spain at Cordova, Seville, and Granada, where they were 
cultivated with much success. Many Jewish rabbis, physicians, and astro- 



nomors addicted to the art of divination, to astrology, and even to magic, 
contributed in a largo degree to the scientific and intellectual movement in 
the Iberian peninsula ; but they were obliged to conceal their Hebrew 
origin under Arab pseudonyms. 

Charlemagne, when he instituted his palatine academy, did not omit the 
exact sciences, which found a place upon the same footing as the speculative 
sciences, literature, and the arts. Astronomers and geometricians naturally 
ranked with natural philosophers, musicians, and poets. The Irish man of 

Fig. fi8. Mathematician Monks; one teaching the Globe, the other copying a Manuscript. 
After a Miniature of the Romance of the " Image of the World." Manuscript of the 
Thirteenth Century. National Library, Paris. 

letters, Dungal, was selected by the great Emperor to superintend the 
investigations necessitated by the reform of the calendar, and to collate the 
annals of celestial phenomena, and he was assisted by Alcuin, Amalaire, and 
Ruban Maur. 

At the death of Charlemagne, the exact sciences, which had flourished for 
a brief space at his court, seemed to shrink into the seclusion of the 
monasteries (Fig. 58). Dungal set his pupils the example of retirement, 



as lie became a monk at the Abbey of St. Denis, where he died in 829. The 
Order of St. Benedict had almost made a monopoly of the exact sciences, 
which were held in high honour at the Abbeys of Mount Cassini, in Italy ; 
of St. Martin, at Tours (France) ; of St. Arnulph, at Metz ; of St. Gall, in 
Switzerland ; of Prum, in Bavaria ; of Canterbury, in England, &c. It was 
there that were formed the able architects and ecclesiastical engineers who 
erected so many magnificent edifices throughout Europe, and most of whom, 
dedicating their lives to a work of faith and pious devotion, have, through 
humility, condemned their names to oblivion. 

Gerbert, born at Aurillac about 930, and admitted while very young 
into a monastery of that town, was one of those monks who devoted their 
time to the sciences ; but he distinguished himself from amongst his con- 
temporaries as much by the extensiveness of his learning as by the practical 
direction which he gave to his labours by the applications that he contrived 
to extract from them. Linguist, geometrician, astronomer, and mechanist, 
he went to complete his mathematical studies at the schools of Cordova and 
Toledo, and thence repaired to Germany, where the Emperor Otho III. 
conceived a great liking for him. He held the see of Ravenna, after having 
been Archbishop of Rheirns, and was elected Pope under the title of 
Sylvester II. Gerbert was, beyond question, the first mathematician of his 
day. He it was who popularised the use of numerals and the system of 
numbering which we still employ a system very different from that of 
which the Romans made use, but falsely attributed to the Arabs, as traces 
of it are to be found in the works of Boethius. It was not, however, to the 
introduction of Arab figures into Europe, but to the use which he made of 
his universal learning, that Gerbert owed his fame. During his stay at the 
imperial court he fabricated with his own hands, amongst other curious 
works, a clock worked by water, and the movement of which was regulated 
by the polar star. His inventions caused him to be looked upon as a 
sorcerer, and of his numerous scientific works all that remain extant are 
several treatises on Geometry and Cosmography. 

His pupil and friend, Adelbold, a native of Liege, after studying the 
sciences there under the learned Heriger, acquired an early celebrity as the 
brilliant rival of Fulbert of Chartres, and of Abbou, Abbot of Fleury. The 
Emperor Henry II. attached him to his household as chancellor or secretary, 
and was loath to lose his services by raising him to the see of Utrecht. 

.i/. / THKM. i TIC. \ i. .SY v/v'.vc /:.v. 

Adelbold, like Gcrbert, was accused of magic, and though he did not make 
a cluck, ho constructed several splendid churches with truly marvellous 
rapidity, and it was no doubt owing 'o the jealousy of the masons that 
this accusation was made against him. The only scientific work which 
Adelbold left was a treatise on the Globe, dedicated to Pope Sylvester II. 

The salutary influence of Gerbert and Adelbold made itself felt in the 
Catholic world at the approach of the year 1000 A.D., which, owing to the 

Fig. 59. Perseus and Andromeda. After a Miniature of the Fourteenth Century, "Liber do 
Locis Stellarum Fixarum." Spanish Manuscript. In the Arsenal Library, Paris. 

superstitious ignorance of the people, was looked forward to with dread as 
destined to usher in the reign of Antichrist. These two illustrious savants 
protested against the threat of the millennium, and announced in advance 
the eclipses and comets which were considered to be sinister presages of the 
end of the world. Instead of recognising their learning and admiring their 
genius, people believed that they were holding criminal intercourse with the 
spirits of evil. 


The exact sciences continued to be taught and to make progress amongst 
the Greeks, the Eastern peoples, and the Arabs hi Spain. Astronomy was 
still the favourite science in the Mussulman schools, and the wise men of 
Islam were always drawing up astronomical tables. Al-Battany spent fifty 
years of his life upon his Sabean Table ; Aben Byhan (died in 941), 
Mohammed al-Saghany (died in 989), Absoufy and Aboul-Waffa (at the end 
of the tenth century), and the most celebrated of all these philosophers, 
Aly ben Abdel-Rhaman, spent their whole existence in drawing up different 
astronomical tables, calculating according to the laws of the motion of the 
stars, for astronomy was at that time a science rather of calculation than of 
observation. The Spanish schools (Figs. 59 and 60) were not behindhand 
with the academy of Bagdad and the school of Alexandria, although the 
scientific celebrities in them were not so numerous in the eleventh as they 
had been in the tenth century. The most famous of these Arab savants 
were Spanish Jews : such as Soliman ben Gavirol (died in 1070), who was not 
less distinguished as a poet and moralist than he was as a mathematician, and 
Abraham ben Chija, who at about the same period drew up a Celestial 
Cosmography which was held in high repute for more than six centuries. 
The rabbis who were most famous for their mathematical and astronomical 
works, written in Arabic, such as Ibn-Zarcali, Abraham Arzachel, Aben-Ezra, 
all more or less mingled with the theorems and calculations which they took 
from the exact sciences fanciful deductions from the Talmud. 

Astronomy in those days was very often no more than astrology ; that is 
to say, the art of drawing horoscopes and making predictions by a study of 
the position of the stars and of the mutual relations of the planets. The 
Eastern peoples, Persians, Arabs, Jews, were much addicted to these practices. 
They endeavoured to ascertain the future by means of the celestial con- 
junctions, and believed that they could read in the heavens not only the 
fate of empires, but the destiny of all human beings. This so-called 
philosophical doctrine was inaugurated in the ninth century by the Arab 
astrologer Albumazar, in his book on the Great Conjunctions. He asserted 
that the appearance of the prophets and of religions had coincided with the 
conjunctions of the planets. Thus, according to him, the conjunction of 
Jupiter with Mercury produced the Christian law ; but, in a given time, the 
conjunction of the Moon with Jupiter would bring about the total downfall 
of all religious beliefs. A doctrine such as this, as insane as it was impious, 


naturally excited the reprobation of the Church. Judicial astrology was 
forbidden in all Christian countries, and condemned by the Holy See. The 
Catholic professors very properly denounced this chimerical science, as 
opening a path to fatalism of the most reckless and culpable kind. 

While astrology was prohibited as an occult science, and the Church was 
anathematizing it, astronomy took her place as one of the seven liberal arts 
which were taught, for more than a thousand years, at the school of 
Alexandria. When the University of Paris was being formed upon the 

Fig. 60. The Centaur. After a Miniature of the Fourteenth Century, " Liber de Locis Stellarum 
Fixarum." Spanish Manuscript. Arsenal Library, Paris. 

model of that celebrated school, astronomy, as a matter of course, was 
included in the qiinilririiini, which formed the second order of study, and 
which further consisted of arithmetic, geometry, and music. But the 
f/iini/ririiii, representing higher education, was followed by a very limited 
number of students, most of them not getting further than the trivium, 
which comprised only the primary sciences or the humanities, grammar, 
rhetoric, and dialectics. 


The same was the case in all the schools of Europe ; but those of Italy 
and England accorded more time to mathematical sciences towards the 
close of the twelfth century. At Pisa, a learned mathematician, Leonardo 
Fibonacci, better known as Leo of Pisa, brought back from his journey to 
the East the algebraic notation which Gerbcrt had invented, or rather pro- 
pagated in Europe, two centuries previously ; and Fibonacci has often been 
credited with the introduction of Arab figures and the use of the abbreviative 
method in lengthy calculations. Amongst the professors at Oxford about 
this period there was another mathematician not less remarkable, who, though 
he had not travelled like Fibonacci, had the talent to discover all the formulae 
of the exact sciences. This was Eobert, surnamed Grossetete, who was the 
master and friend of Adam of Marisco and of the celebrated Roger Bacon. 

Roger Bacon, in all his allusions to Robert Grossetete, speaks of him in 
the most respectful terms. He describes him as one of the most enlightened, 
the best informed, and most eminent men of his day ; as fully conversant 
with all languages, even Greek and Hebrew, which were then but little 
known ; as very dissatisfied with the Latin translations of Aristotle which 
were at that time used in the Universities, and endeavouring, with the 
assistance of his friends and pupils, to provide better ones ; as allying the 
love of science to that of letters ; as being as much versed in mathematics 
and astronomy as was possible in his day ; as the interpreter of Aristotle's 
logic ; and as the author of a treatise upon the Celestial Globe. It may be 
mentioned, also, that, in addition to these uncommon qualities of philosopher 
and savant, Robert Grossetete possessed sincere piety and deep theological 
learning. Raised to the episcopal see of Lincoln (he died in 1253), he left 
behind him letters, still extant, which contain unequivocal proof of the 
sincerity of his devotion to the Papacy, of which he was falsely represented 
as an open enemy. 

Adam de Marisco belonged, like Robert Grosstete, to the Church. He 
passed the greater part of his days in England, in a Franciscan monastery, 
but the life of the cloister did not deaden in him the love of science. Roger 
Bacon almost always speaks of him, as of the Bishop of Lincoln, as one of 
the lights of his age as a master in grammar, mathematics, and astronomy. 

But it was, above all, the name, the learning, and the genius of Roger 
Bacon (born in 1214) which predominated in the scientific history of the 
thirteenth century. The school itself, often as he combated its views, gave 


him the title of Athiilrnhli' Doctor, and he proved himself worthy of it by the 
general curiosity which animated him, by the ardour which he displayed for 

Fig. 61. A Lesson in Astronomy (Thirteenth Century). Miniature from the Breviary of 
St. Louis. In the Arsenal Library, Paris. 

the advancement of science, and, above all, by the grandeur and originality 
of tli<> views expressed by him in his works. He represents more accurately 
than any one else 1 in the thirteenth century the movement which was already 


urging so many minds to the study of nature, and to the experimental 
method without which the mysteries of nature remain unfathomable. Whilst 
St. Thomas Aquinas was devoting to Christian theology all the resources of 
his dialectics and all the glow of his piety, Eoger Bacon applied himself to 
natural philosophy and mathematics, paying special attention to the study of 
languages, which he looked upon as closely connected with the progress of 
the natural sciences (Fig. 61). 

But a too exclusive devotion to these his favourite studies eventually led 
Roger Bacon astray, and he came to look with contempt upon all methods 
except his own. Upon repairing to Paris after his residence at Oxford, he 
unhesitatingly attacked the system of teaching in the Universities, accusing 
the masters and professors either of ignorance or bad faith ; and, though 
himself belonging to the Order of St. Francis, he declared war upon the 
Franciscans and Dominicans in France, whom he did not consider equal to 
the learned friends he had left behind him in England, such as Robert of 
Lincoln, William of Sherwood, John of London, and, above all, the person 
whom he spoke of as Master Nicholas. " Experience is worth more than 
Aristotle," he said ; " all the metaphysics of the school are not to be compared 
with a little grammar and mathematics ; Alexander of Hales and Albert are 
presumptuous schoolmen who exercise a fatal influence ; let us beware of 
becoming subject to it, and let us complete for ourselves our education, which 
is scarcely as yet begun." 

From this time he applied himself to the study of four ancient languages, 
higher mathematics, astronomy, optics, and Platonist philosophy. He was 
assisted in his studies by a man of incomparable genius, a French savant 
belonging to Picardy, whom he always speaks of as Magister Petrus or 
MfKjistcr Peregrinus, and who would be absolutely unknown if his illustrious 
pupil had not handed his name down, in his " Opus Tertium " and his " Opus 
Minus," to the admiration of posterity. Magister Petrus led a solitary life, 
avoiding the society of his fellow-men, whom he looked upon as mad, or as 
sophists incapable of enduring the light of truth ; he endeavoured to pene- 
trate the secrets of nature ; he observed the stars, and sought out the causes of 
the celestial phenomena ; he imposed upon science the task of multiplying the 
metamorphoses of matter ; he invented arms and instruments of war ; he 
gave a practical and useful application to alchemy ; lie paid attention at the 
same time to agronomy, surveying, and architecture, and he sought to 



extract from the devices of sorcerers and magicians whatever experimental 
science could discover therein. In a word, Magistcr Petrus deserved the 
surname which his pupil gave him of J/.v///.sV/r EsjMviineiiforum. 

Such a guide was invaluable to Roger Bacon in the wonderful inventions 
attributed to him, for in most of his researches and experiments he was 
doubtless assisted by the advice of Magister Petrus. His works, more 
particularly his " Opus Maju.-s," show to what a height he elevated science, 
substituting the experimental for the scientific method. It is easy to under- 
stand how the invention of gunpowder, telescopes, magnifying glasses, &c., 
came to be attributed to him. He merely put into execution, as it would 
appear, the scientific discoveries of his master, who had observed the 
phenomenon of refraction and the properties of the loadstone, and who con- 
structed a movable sphere which reproduced all the motions of the stars. 
Roger Bacon also devoted his attention to philosophy, and as early as the year 
1269 he proposed the reform of the calendar (Figs. 62 67). 

But the attitude which he had assumed, and the severity of his criticisms 
upon the most illustrious of his contemporaries, made him many bitter 

1 1 is principal adversaries or rather, perhaps, his rivals were, like himself, 
monks of the Franciscan Order. He was denounced to his superiors as being 
guilty of heresy in his teaching of science, and he was confined in a prison 
where he could not have any communication with his pupils. The latter, 
most of whom belonged to the same religious order, and all of whom were 
famous astronomers or mathematicians, such as Thomas Bungey, Jean de 
Paris, John Bacon or Baconthorp, nicknamed the Prince of Averroists, 
did not venture to espouse his cause for fear of being involved in his disgrace. 
He had, however, a friend in Clement IV., to whom he had dedicated his 
" Opus Majus," and was, by his order, set at liberty. But, at the death of that 
pontiff, he was again imprisoned and treated with still greater severity, for 
he was refused the use of writing materials. He managed, however, to revise 
and perfect his "Opus Majus," which contains the substance of his doctrine, 
and he wrote two epitomes of it, far more advanced than the original, with 
the titles of " Opus Minus " and " Opus Tertium." Both of these books, though 
they long remained unpublished, were not destroyed, notwithstanding the 
persecution to which their author was subjected during his lifetime, but it is 
not many years since they first saw the light. This man of genius, who 


9 o 


Fig. 62. The Burgher in Winter. 

Fig. 63. The Sower. 

Fig. 64. Lovers in Springtide. 

1 ig. 65. The Sheep Sheurer. 

Fig. 66. A Ride in Summer. 

Fig. 67. The Reaper. 

Miniatures from the Calendar of a "Book of Hours. "-Manuscript of the beginning of the 

Sixteenth Century. 

.i/,i Tfjr.MA TIC A i. .SY v/:.vr '/us. 

had received the title of Admirable Doctor, died about 1294, almost forgotten 
by the men of that generation, ' without having been able to realise that 
regeneration of the scientific school which he had made the object of his 
life. It should be added, however, that he had become a dupe to the Arabism 
of Albumazar and the Aristotelism of Averroes, and that he acquiesced in all 
the wild conceptions of astrology and alchemy. 

The Oxford school, to which the illustrious Roger Bacon belonged, 
appears to have been the cradle of English scepticism, which, after a long and 
sullen opposition to the teaching of the Catholic dogma, finally terminated 
in the most uncompromising heresy. The contemporaries of Bacon were all 
more or less of sceptics. John Basingstoke, who became Archdeacon of 
London and of Leicester, where he died in 1252, entered upon scholasticism 
with much mistrust and doubt. He made a journey into Greece, to give the 
agitation excited by his works upon the Bible, time to cool down, and there 
devoted himself to the study of 'the exact sciences, and brought back to 
England the figures and ciphers which the Greeks used to signify numerals. 
Another pupil of the Oxford school, John of Holywood, called Sacrobosco, 
had already a reputation as astronomer or cosmographist when he came to 
study at the University of Paris, where he afterwards taught mathematics 
with great success. He composed a treatise on the Celestial Globe (" De Sphaera 
Mundi "), which was an imitation and abridgment of Ptolemy's book, and 
which continued to be a classic work in all the schools of Europe for more 
than three centuries. He also left a work considered to be of great value 
upon the Reckoning of Time (" De Anni Ratione "), a treatise upon Astrolabe, 
and another on Algorithms. Like most mathematicians of his day, he also 
sought to predict the future and to draw horoscopes. 

The school of Canterbury, less impulsive than that of Oxford, pursued 
very steadily the study of the exact sciences under the superintendence of 
eminent prelates, amongst whom may be mentioned Thomas Bradwardin, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, surnamed the Profound Doctor, and Richard 
Walinford, Abbot of St. Albans, who were the first mathematicians of the 
fourteenth century. Denmark, at the same period, was rejoicing in the 
discoveries of a learned astronomer, De Duco, author of a new Ecclesiastical 
Computation and of a valuable treatise upon the Calendar. 

All the greatest astronomical discoveries were effected in the East, m 
Persia, Arabia, and even in the provinces of Lebanon. Nassir-Eddin, a 


Persian, invented some ingenious instruments for mathematical calculations, 
and he collected, under the title of " Ilkhanian Tables," a number of daily 
observations upon the state of the sky and the course of the stars. The 
Armenian Ezenkansti not only observed the celestial phenomena, but he 
described them in verse, and celebrated them in his poetry. Astronomy 
comprised studious and zealous followers even in Morocco, where Aly 
Aboul-Kalan wrote his book on " Beginnings and Endings," supplementing the 
compared results of telescopic observations with the most minute calculations, 
lint, from the close of the thirteenth century, the savants of Italy had 

Fig. 68. Astronomer accused of Sorcery, holding a Disc 
with Magic Figures. Capital Letter in a " Book of 
Jurisprudence." Manuscript of theThirteenth Century. 
In Ihe Lihrary of M. Anibroise Firmin-Didot. 

devoted themselves by preference to mathematics, though the study of the 
exact sciences was too often suspected of heresy. Campano, who had 
translated Euclid, had some difficulty in defending himself from the 
suspicions and denunciations of the theologians, while Pietro d'Abano, who 
professed medicine and astronomy at the University of Padua, had the 
misfortune to lean towards the errors of Averroism, and to fall a victim to 
astrology. Accused of sorcery, and condemned to the stake, he escaped that 
punishment by suicide (1316), or else died suddenly it is not known which 
before the sentence was executed. The principal mathematicians belonged to 


the school of Florence. Dugomari, called Paul the Geometer, and Abbaco 
contributed simultaneously to the progress of the exact sciences, but none of 
their pupils were capable of taking their place. 

Mathematics were but little cultivated in France, though in the fourteenth 
century may be mentioned Jean de Lignieres, whom a chronicler calls "the 
restorer of the science of the stars," and Jean des Murs, canon of the 
Cathedral of Paris, who compiled some valuable works on Arithmetic. 
Bonnet de Lates, a physician in Provence, conceived the idea of an astro- 
nomical ring for measuring the height of the sun and the stars (Fig. 68). 
This mathematician failed, however, to guard himself from the errors of 
contemporary science, and his weighty study of astronomy did not save him 
from making predictions based upon the conjunctions of the planets and so 

During the Italian Renaissance. mathematics were not neglected, and they 
were taught with success during' the fifteenth century at Rome, Naples, 
Padua, Bologna, Pisa, and more especially at Florence. They were at that 
time almost entirely extricated from the dangerous illusions of astrology, 
and no longer involved noble minds in the fatal paths of doubt and heresy. 
They were professed, moreover', by some of the principal doctors of the 
Church, and were in a certain degree honoured by the direct protection of 
the Holy See, when ^35neas Sylvius Piccolomini, one of the first mathema- 
ticians of his century, was elected Pope, with the title of Pius II. (1458 
1464). Pope Pius II. was a man of general learning, but his favourite 
study was that of cosmography. At the same time, Cardinal Nicholas de 
Cusa, his rival in learning, found time, while fulfilling his diplomatic 
functions at the Court of Rome, to write works on Mathematics, Geometry, 
and Astronomy, in which he maintained the system of the earth's rotation 
around the sun, and admitted in principle the plurality of worlds, two 
centuries before Galileo. 

The example of Pius II. induced his successors, Paul II. and Sixtus IV., 
to favour the exact sciences. It was Sixtus IV. who summoned to Rome the 
celebrated Konigsberg astronomer, Johann Miiller, called Regiomontanus, who 
had been recommended to him by Cardinal Bessarion. Regiomontanus, the 
most celebrated pupil of G. Purbach, had already obtained a great reputation 
in Italy, whither he accompanied Cardinal Bessarion in 1463. The course 
of astronomy which he commenced at Padua in that year attracted an 



enormous audience. He afterwards became astronomer-royal to Matthias 
Corvinus, King of Hungary. But, unfortunately for him, he was imable to 
resist the entreaties of Pope Sixtus IV., who induced him to come to Rome. 

Fig. 69. Ptolemy's System, explained by Johann Jliiller, called Regiomontanus. Fac-simile of a 
Wood Engraving of the "Epitome . . . Johannes de Monte Regio " (Basilese, ap. H. Petri, 
1543, in folio). 

It is generally believed that the envy and revenge of his scientific rivals had 
something to do with his premature death in 1476. Although he died at 
under forty years of age, he had written a number of astronomical and 

.]/. I /////.]/. 1 TK '. 1 1. SCIKXCES. 95 

mathematical works, which had a great success both during his lifetime 
and after his death (Fig. 69). His researches upon the calendar and upon 
triangulation were the basis of the remarkable labours of the Wurtemberg 
astronomer, Stoffler (1452 1531), who can claim the honour of compiling 
the great Roman Calendar (" Kalendarium Romanum magnum"). 

The teaching of mathematics was very brilliant at Naples during the 
reign of Alfonso of Aragon, the Magnanimous (1415 1458). People came 
thither from all parts to hear the Tuscan professor, Buonencontro, who, in his 
double capacity of poet and orator, gave an unusual charm to the exposition 
of the celestial phenomena, and who had the good fortune to allude openly 
to astrology, and even to magic, without provoking the remonstrances or the 
repression of the ecclesiastical authorities. These were the preludes of the 
Reformation, which made its presence felt in science by proclaiming the right 
of free examination before applying it to the dogmas of religion. It must 
also be said that the Greek savants, who had emigrated into Europe, and 
especially into Italy, after the occupation of Constantinople by the Turks, 
brought with them more fondness and aptitude for the occult than for the 
exact sciences. Several of these Greek savants had been received by 
Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, who, in his admiration for the sciences, 
gave the palm to astrology and alchemy ; and the observatory attached to his 
palace at Buda was used less, for observing the position of the stars, and 
studying the laws of their motions, than for seeking thereby to forecast the 
future. His library was composed of the most rare and magnificent manu- 
scripts, but a great part of them referred to alchemy and the philosopher's 
stone. While harbouring these Greeks from Constantinople, who claimed to 
be alchemists and astrologers, Matthias Corvinus also placed great confidence 
in a true Italian savant, Fioravanti Alberti, who had little dealing with 
astrology, and who applied almost exclusively to works of architecture and 
design his profound knowledge of mathematics, and especially of geometry. 

At this epoch astrology was everywhere beginning to supplant astronomy. 
There was not a sovereign or prince in Europe but had in his service an 
astrologer, more or less able and crafty, who in many cases sailed under the 
colours of a physician. King Louis XI. never arrived at any important 
decision without having consulted his Neapolitan astrologer, Angelo Cattho 
de Sopino, whom he created Archbishop of Vienne in Dauphiny, as a reward 
for the accuracy of his sidereal predictions. The Emperor Maximilian was 

9 6 


always accompanied by his physician, Grunpek, whose prescriptions were 
dictated by the stars, and who paid more heed to the politics than to the 
health of his august master. 

The exact sciences still found a home, however, in Italy at Florence, 
where Buonencontro and the Alberti had formed a numerous school, arid 
the application of mathematics to arts and industry was the result of a 

Fig. "0. Instruments of Mathematical Precision for executing Portraits. Fac-siinile of a Wood 
Engraving by Albert Diirer, " Institutionum Geometricarum Libri Quatuor" (Parisiis, ex offi- 
cina Christian! Wecheli, 1535, in folio). In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

serious and solid course of teaching. At the end of the fifteenth century 
the astronomer Pozzo Toscanelli traced for Christopher Columbus, who 
derived material assistance from his teaching, the route which he must take 
across the ocean in order to reach the -western coasts of the Indies ; the 
mathematician Paccioli was animated by Christian faith when he wrote his 
great cosrnographical and philosophical work entitled, "De Divina Propor- 



tione; " and the great Michael Angelo, surrounded by a group of younger artists, 
wlio looked upon him as the regenerator of modem art, sought in the science 
of mathematics the most wonderful secrets of architecture and sculpture. 
Like Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci, there was not a single great 
artist of that day who was not, in addition, a consummate mathematician 
(Figs. 70 and 71). 

The mathematicians, it is true, did not all develop into artists, notwith- 

Fig. 71. Instrument of Mathematical Precision for designing Objects in Perspective. Fac-simile 
of a Wood Engraving from Albert Durer's Work, " Institutionum Geometrical-urn Libri 
Quatuor" (Parisiis, ex officina Christian! Wecheli, 1535, in folio). In the Library of 
M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

standing the general tendency which led them to cultivate the arts. At 
Ferrara Alumno remained cosmographist, and devoted part of his life to 
composing voluminous works upon celestial mechanics ("De Fabrica Mundi") ; 
at Perugia the Dantes, who were not of the same family as the writer of the 
" Divine Comedy," devoted their time to purely mathematical works ; and one 
of them, Egnazio Dante, who collated in his repertory of the "Scienze Mathe- 
nuitice in Tavole " (the Mathematical Sciences in Tables) all the problems 



resolved by his predecessors, constructed an immense table, upon which were 
marked with great precision the equinoxes and the solstices. 

In Spain, as in Portugal, where the adventurous spirit of the nation 
favoured long sea voyages and expeditious to the East and West Indies, the 
exact sciences contributed to the progress of navigation, especially in regard 
to hydrography and astronomy. A Portuguese Jew, Abraham ben Samuel 
Zacuth, published at Lisbon a perpetual almanac, which was afterwards 

Fig. 72. German Astronomer and Cosmographist. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving of the 

Sixteenth Century, hy J. Amman. 

completed and perfected by Alfonso of Cordova, a Seville physician, who also 
published some excellent astronomical tables. 

England and Germany (Fig. 72) were not behindhand in this forward 
movement of science ; but the savants of these two countries belonged more 
or less to the sceptical school which brought about the Reformation, and 
found means in all their works, however excellent from a scientific point of 
view, a pretext or an opportunity for attacking the Catholic religion. It 
might have been supposed that mathematics were offensive weapons placed in 
the hands of blind sectaries of heresy. At the same time it would be unjust 



to underestimate the importance.of the labours of Batecumbe, an Englishman, 
who composed so many works on astronomy ; of Peyrbaeh, an Austrian, who 
conceived an ingenious theory of the planets; or of Gaspard Peucer, a 
Saxon, who described the motion of the stars, and represented for the first 
time the true configuration of the earth. 

But it may be said that all the science of the Middle Ages is summed 
up in the memorable book of Pic Mirandola, " De omni re scibili," which 

Fig. 73. Arc with Double Compartment for Fig. 74. Small Quadrant, or Quarter of 

measuring the Shortest Distances of the a Circle, in Copper GUt. 


Fac-simile of Copper Engravings in the Work, "Tychonis Brahe Astronomic Instauratre 
Mechanica" (Noribergae, apud Levinum Hulsium, 1602, in folio). 

contains nine hundred propositions embracing the totality of human know- 
ledge at this epoch. Pic Mirandola was but nine-and-twenty years of age 
when ho undertook to sustain in public these nine hundred propositions 
against any one who would accept the immense responsibility of this scientific 
and oratorical tournament, in which, as may be supposed, the mathematical 
and astronomical sciences held a large place. No one came forward to pick 
up the glove, but Pic Mirandola's book, submitted to pontifical censure, was 


condemned as heretical with regard to a number of points, in dealing with 
which the writer had openly declared himself the partisan of Averroism, a 
bastard kind of scholasticism which linked the principles of Plato and 
Aristotle to the vagaries of Albumazar. He was not persecuted, as Roger 
Bacon and Pietro d'Abano had been, but he voluntarily submitted himself to 
exile, and found* a peaceful asylum in France, under the protection of the 
University of Paris, in which he had previously studied the higher sciences, 
and even cabalism. 

Averroisro, with its attendant mysteries of astrology and magic, con- 
tinued to reign in the schools of Italy and of Germany, making its baneful 
influence felt in the exact as well as in the speculative sciences. Its principal 
centre was the University of Padua. The illustrious Jerome Cardan of 
Pavia (died in 1576) had begun his career of professor by teaching mathe- 
matics at Milan, and it was then that he invented a new mode of resolving 
algebraic equations. But his passion for astrology and the occult sciences 
soon dragged him into a vicious circle of wild crazes and visions. So it was 
with Cornelius Agrippa of Netteshcim (born at Cologne in 1486), with 
Theophrastus Bombastes, surnamed Paracelsus (born at Einsiedlen, in Switzer- 
land, about 1493), who would have been two great philosophers, two great 
physicians, and two great mathematicians, if they had not preferred to be 
astrologers and cabalists ; but, as it was, they lived in poverty, and died in 
misery, one at the Grenoble Hospital (1535), the other at the Hospital of 
Salzburg (1541). Another dreamer, who, lika Agrippa and Paracelsus, was 
a man of universal attainments, and who, like them, visited all the Universities 
and courts of Europe, Lucilio Vanini, born in the kingdom of Naples, lived 
as wretched and precarious a life as they did, and came to a still more 
miserable end. As M. Cousin has remarked, Vanini had no other God than 
Nature, and his morality was that of Epicurus. He was burnt alive, as an 
atheist, at Toulouse, upon the 9th of February, 1619. 

France was, however, more hospitable for the astrologers and sorcerers, 
though the celebrated Pierre La Ramee, surnamed Ramus, Principal of the 
College of Presles, at Paris, where he himself taught philosophy and mathe- 
matics in 1545, opened an eloquent campaign against the extravagances of 
astrology (Fig. 79). But Ramus was one of the apostles of the Reformation, 
and his philosophic reasoning was no match for the allied forces of madmen 
and impostors who dishonoured true science. Cosmo Ruggieri, whom 

MA ////.]/. i TH : 1 1. si -//:\< v;.v. 


Catherine de' Medicis brought to France as astrologer-royal, was not capable 
of doing more than compiling prophetical almanacs, and yet his credit at 
court extended over four reigns. As to Pierre de Nostredame, surnamed 
Nostradamus, who set up for astronomer and physician, though he had never 
studied either medicine or astronomy, he merely observed the stars for the 
purpose of making predictions therefrom, and his mathematical calculations 
were confined to the composition of horoscopes. He was in great favour 

Fig. 75. Astronomical Sextant for 
measuring Distances. 

76. Equatorial RingJ or 

Fac-simile of Copper Engravings in the Book, "Tychonis Brahe Aslronomiae Instaurata; 
Mechanica" (Noribergse, apnd Levinum Hulsium, 1602, in folio). 

with Charles IX. and the Queen-mother, who loaded him with presents, but 
he had the prudence to withdraw from the court and live in retirement at 
Salon, in Provence, where he died in 1566, leaving behind him a great 
reputation and a large fortune. He did not leave any astronomical work, 
but merely some collections of pharmaceutical receipts and unintelligible 
prophecies in rhymed verse, and written in a mystic and barbarous tongue. 
To discover the true science of astronomy in the sixteenth century, it was 



necessary to go, not to France, but to Poland, where Nicholas Copernicus, 
born at Thorn, in 1473, had returned home, after professing mathematics at 
Rome, without awaking the susceptibilities of the Roman clergy, who 
would not admit of the utterance of any scientific idea contrary to the facts 
set forth in Holy Writ. But, once settled at Frauenburg, where he was 
appointed to a canonry, he threw off the reserve imposed upon him by the 
fear of ecclesiastical censure, and unhesitatingly declared that he accepted, 
with certain rectifications, the system formerly taught by the philosophers of 


Fig. 77. Marque of Jehan St. Denis, Bookseller at Paris, Rue Neui've Nostre-Dame, at the Sign 
of St. Nicholas: "Petit Compost en fra^oys" (jrinted in 1530, small octavo). "The 
present book, for the use of simple persons who do not understand Latin, contains a small and 
easy process for understanding the course of the sun and moon, festivals, and time according 
to the order of the ' Latin Compost.' " 

ancient Greece, according to which the planets revolved, from east to west, 
around the sun, while the earth described two distinct motions, one of rotation 
upon its own axis, the other of circumvolution around the sun. Copernicus, 
however, waited for some time before publishing this system, which was 
violently attacked by the defenders of biblical lore, and he took the precaution 
of dedicating to Pope Paul III. his book, "De Revolutionibus Orbium Cseles- 
tibus," in which he had expounded the whole of his system. He did not live 

.]/. i /// /:.}/. i T/< i /. .SY 'ii-:\( -ES. 

to see this book published, for it appeared on the very day of his death in 
1543; and he thus escaped the posthumous condemnation passed upon the 
work, which was placed in the Index by the Court of Home in 1G16, not- 
withstanding its having been dedicated to a pope. 



<Tv>tA>WO 4O. ANNO 

Fig. 78. Portrait of Tycho Brahe, engraved by Gheyn, at the end of the Sixteenth Century. 
In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

Copernicus confined himself to astronomy; his successor and imitator, 
the celebrated Tycho Brahe (Fig. 78), who did not, perhaps, excel him, but who 
was in some respects his equal iu his learned treatises on Astronomy, fell a 


victim in many instances to the errors of astrology, and even of cabali>m. 
He had laboured in all the observatories of Germany and Sweden, when 
the King of Denmark constructed for him upon the island of Haven, near 
Copenhagen, a magnificent observatory, in which, for seventeen years, he fol- 
lowed the motions of the planets and the stars, in order to connect them with 
the system which he had conceived to replace those of Ptolemy and Copernicus 
(Figs. 73 76). According to his system the earth was motionless in the 
centre of the world, and the sun and moon revolved around it, while the 
other five planets gravitated around the sun. But Tycho Brahe, acceding to 
the pressing invitation of the Emperor Rudolph II., who was anxious to get 
him to his court, turned astrologer, in order to obtain the pension which was 
paid him, and lost himself in the vagaries of cabalism. He died at Prague 
in 1601, leaving behind him a European, reputation, which his works, very 
inferior to those of Copernicus, scarcely justified. 

And yet Copernicus and Tycho Brahe were the creators of true astronomy, 
and it may be said in their praise that, at a time when astrologers, necro- 
mancers, and diviners were alone in favour, like Cosmo Ruggieri at the 
French court, and John Dee at the court of Queen Elizabeth, the observa- 
tions and systems of the Polish astronomer and the Danish astronomer 
inaugurated a new era in the scientific world, and opened the route which A\;I- 
afterwards followed, and with so much renown, by Galileo, Keppler, Huygeus, 
and Xewton. As has been remarked by the learned Dr. Hoefer, " Copernicus 
begat Keppler, and Keppler begat Xewton. "What a genealogical tree ! " 


S I X B L I X E A 

Fig. 79. Portrait of Bernard Abb&tia, Astronomer to the King. Fac-simile of a AVood Engrav- 
ing of the " Prognostication sur le manage de Henry, roy de Xavarre, et de Marguerite de 
France" (Paris, Guillaume de Xyverd, 1572, small octavo). The Latin motto, " Vulla dies 
sine lines," signifies " There's no life without an ending," or " There is no day whL-h u not 
regulated by the stars." 


Natural Sciences in Antiquity. Their Decadence in the Middle Age* Rural Economy in the 
time of Charlemagne. The Monk Strabus. Botanical Gardens. Botany aided by Medi- 
cine. Hildegarde, Abbess of Bingen. Peter of Cresceutiis. Vincent of BeauvaU. Fables 
and Popular Errors. Jean Dondi. Bartholomew Glauvil. Naturalist Traveller*. 
Aristotle and Pliny restored to honour. Gardens in the Sixteenth Century. The Conquest* 
of Science in Travel. Bernard Palissy. G. Agricolu. Conrad Gesner. Methods of Botany. 
Paiutcrs and Engravers of Natural History. 

HE great work of Pliny the Elder, which 
"contains in its one hundred and thirty- 
seven books the sum and substance of all 
. the knowledge of antiquity with regard to 
arts and sciences, is unquestionably replete 
with erudition, but it is also typical of the 
extreme confusion which then prevailed iii 
the domain of natural and physical sciences. 
The tendency to sophistry and paradox, the 
subtleties of dialectics, had changed the 
direction of scientific studies, and abruptly 
closed the broad vistas which the admirable 
labours of Aristotle opened to the human mind, in teaching it to study 
directly and materially Nature, which all the ancient religious had made 
divine, under the manifold form of the gods and goddesses of paganism 
(Fig. 80). The observation of facts and the search of causes seemed to have 
become useless ; the marvellous and the strange were preferred before simple 
arid logical truth ; and prevalent opinions were accepted without putting them 
to the test of criticism or the control of experience. With regard to the 
theory of the elements and the three reigns, as to the history of minerals, 
plants, and animals, the most absurd and extravagant fables, allied to the 
wildest conceptions of popular credulity, had become current. Pliny, 


however, whose statements were often adduced in support of them, was not 
merely an observant compiler of facts ; he had watched and studied for 
himself, and he died a victim to science, in attempting to contemplate too 
closely the great eruption of Vesuvius, which destroyed the cities of Pompeii 
and Herculaneum (H.C. 79). 

When the Iloman decadence set in, the natural sciences, which had 
remained motionless for four centuries, were at the same point as they had 
been- left by Claudius JElianus, who, in his " History of Animals," collected 
without any cohesion the vague or erroneous notions which he had gathered 
from various Greek and Latin authors whose works are no longer extant. 
These sciences, almost abandoned, had been relegated, together with specu- 
lative philosophy, amongst the misty conceptions of the sophists, and were 
merely interpreted by a few rhetoricians, such as Nemesianus, Calpurnius, and 
Ausonius, who. translated in their descriptive poems the ideas of pagan antiquity 
as to the phenomena and products of nature. Pliny is always cited in 
works which treat incidentally of any facts appertaining to the physical 
world. Moreover, in these times, from the fourth to the eighth century, so 
unfavourable to science, writers, whether physicians, historians, or philosophers, 
merely treated of material things from a utilitarian point of view ; they 
spoke of minerals, plants, and animals without reference to their organiza- 
tion, their shape, or their physiognomy ; they examined and appreciated them 
solely from the point of view as to the best use that could be made of them 
in industry or social life ; and the only scientific classification they gave them 
was to place them in the Hexameron, or theory of the six days of the creation, 
according to the Genesis of Moses (Fig. 81). 

Charlemagne himself, notwithstanding his great genius, does not seem 
to have taken any interest in the study of natural history, and we know 
that it was not included in the course of study at the Palace School. The 
Emperor was doubtless familiar with all wild animals, from a hunting point 
of view ; with the domesticated animals, from the point of view of rural 
economy, and with plants in connection with agriculture, for he paid great 
attention to the care of his lands and gardens. Thus, in his Capitularies, he 
lays special stress upon the good kinds of fruits, vegetables, and grain for 
the use of the table, and scarcely gave a place for the exotic vegetables, &c., 
sent to him from Spain and Greece. It was at this epoch that a monk in 
the monastery of St. Gall, Walafrid Straba, described with no little accuracy, 

.V.I //'A 1 . 1/. SCIENCES. 


in a Latin poem entitled " Hortulus," the vegetables which he had culti- 
vated with his own hands. Another poet, almost his contemporary, and 
believed to be a Frenchman, Marer Kloridus, also composed a similar poem 
upon the culture and virtue of herbs, amongst which certain nlaBMB had 
already been remarked as most effective for curing various diseases. This 
culture of medicinal herbs took place in most of the monasteries, and was the 

Fig. 80. Esus, the great God of Nature among the Gauls, worshipped in the Forests. Celtic 
Monument discovered at Paris, under the Choir of Notre-Dame, in 1771, and preserved in the 
Cluny Museum. 

origin of those botanical gardens which afterwards contributed so much to 
the progress of medicine. (See below, chapter on Medical Sciences.) 

Though from the eighth to the tenth century the natural sciences were 
altogether neglected in the West, it was not the same with Eastern peoples, 
who sought not so much to embrace the vast totality of physical knowledge 
as to perfect themselves in the study of materia mcdica, for all the sciences 


led up to medicine. During the prosperous reign of Al-Mansour, in the 
eighth century, a large school was founded at Bagdad, which became a 
refuge for the sciences when exiled from Athens and Alexandria. There 
were translated into Syriac the works of Aristotle and Galen, the two 
lights of Greece and of Rome, whom the Arabs in turn translated for the use 
of their schools at Granada and Cordova. The legendary caliph, Ilaroun 
Alraschid, followed the example of Al-Mansour, his predecessor, and showed 
still more generosity towards the savants. His son, Al-Mamoun, obedient 
to these traditions, carried the love of science so far as to declare war upon 
the . Emperor of Constantinople, in order to compel him to send into Asia 
Minor not only several Greek savants, but also some ancient manuscripts 
relating to arts and sciences. 

.The Arabs had before this cultivated several branches of natural history, 
and made some valuable botanical discoveries, thereby enlarging the domain 
of materia medica. Thus, in place of the violent purgatives, such as 
hellebore, which were previously resorted to, the Arab doctors recommended 
the moderate use of cassia, senna, and tamarinds : a quantity of plants 
useful for medicinal purposes were brought from India, Persia, and Syria by 
Rhazes. -At the same time Serapion the younger commentated Dioscorides, 
and added to that work a description of the newly discovered plants ; and 
Avicenna scoured Bactriana and Sogdiana in search of medicines, and espe- 
cially of vegetable preparations. Mesue wrote his treatise on Medicine (" De 
Re Medica"), which, several times translated into Latin, was used as a manual 
in all the schools up to the Renaissance. But, apart from the materia medica, 
disorder and confusion prevailed in the works composed by the Arabs, who 
were not acquainted with Aristotle's " History of Animals," or the " History 
of Hants " by Theophrastus, and whose translations of, and commentaries 
upon, Pliny and Dioscorides are a mass of nonsense, and for the most part 

Constantine of Africa first introduced into Europe certain Arab works 
upon the materia medica, but in his own works, though they give proof of a 
certain experience in practical medicine, it is easy to see that he was not well 
informed in matters of detail, and this because there was a want of method in 
his study of nature. Thus, in dividing medicines into four distinct classes, 
he ranged them upon a sort of scale according to their degree of relative 
activity. At about the same period the natural sciences were represented 

. .SY '/A'. Vr/;.s. 


with no little ('chit in the East by. several Arab botanists, such as Ebn-Taitor, 
a native of Malaga, who travelled into Asia to study plants previously to 
becoming minister of the Caliph at Cairo ; and Alxlallatif, author of a 
very accurate description of the plants and animals of Egypt, who, in the 
dissection of a mummy, corrected several important errors which Galen 
had made in matters of osteology. This knowledge of human anatomy is all 
the more remarkable because the law of Mahomet absolutely forbids dissection 
of dead bodies. Thus a great part of such science as there then was in the 

Fig. 81. God creating the World by Compass. Miniature frtm Brimetto Latini's " Tresor." 
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. In the Arsenal Library, Paris. 

world came directly from the Arabs, and especially from the caliphate of 
Cordova. It was there that Gerbert, who became, in turn, Archbishop of 
Rheims, of Ravenna, and afterwards Pope, under the name of Sylvester II. 
(999), repaired to increase his already large store of learning, and he may 
claim the honour of having imported into Italy the first elements of the 
natural sciences. Otho of Cremona sets forth the facts relating to medicinal 
plants with which he is acquainted in a learned poem of fifteen hundred 
lines ; and John of Milan summarised, also in verse, all the medical botany 


of his century in the " Code of the School of Salerno," a work which is not 
devoid of importance from a hygienic point of view, but which is very 
imperfect in its treatment of the natural sciences. 

Although the light of science emanated chiefly from the Saracen schools in 
Spain, it was not extinguished when the empire of the Caliphs was over- 
thrown, and when reviving civilisation was once more threatened with an 
invasion of barbarism. The Jewish nation picked up the scattered fragments 
of the sacred arts of science, and divided them between the various countries 
of Europe, where the rabbis for some time preserved the monopoly of real 
learning. Physicians for the most part, often favourites and advisers of their 
sovereigns, and even of popes, they had chairs at the Colleges of Bologna, 
Milan, and Naples, and they substituted a new mode of teaching for the 
" Etymologicon " of Isidore of Seville, which had been, since the seventh 
century, the basis of scientific studies. The natural sciences amongst 
others, zoology, mineralogy, and botany were doubtless represented in this 
abridged dictionary of human attainments, but Isidore of Seville, at the 
remote epoch when he wrote, was unable to treat them save in a superficial and 
illogical fashion, for want of sufficient experience and observation (Fig. 82). 

The progress of the natural sciences was not very rapid during the twelfth 
century, but there might already be perceived, in several writings on those 
subjects, a tendency to observation of facts, though no one had yet conceived 
the simple idea of interrogating Nature herself. Botany continued to have 
the preference of early observers, and medicine was the starting-point of all 
scientific investigation. Amongst the works which give the best summary of 
the opinions and principles of science, as to plants, minerals, and animals, 
useful or noxious, must be mentioned the " Jardin de Sante," compiled by 
Hildegarde, Abbess of Biugen, as a very valuable collection of receipts to be 
used in cases of illness. Hildegarde, like many other abbesses of her time, 
was much addicted to the study of everything relating to the art of healing ; 
she cultivated herself many medicinal plants, and ascertained their respective 
properties. Thus a great many monasteries (Fig. 83) and convents possessed 
not only botanical gardens, but also collections of fossils, minerals, shells, 
herbs, and animals preserved by various processes of desiccation. This was 
the origin of those encyclopasdise of the Middle Ages, vast descriptive compi- 
lations, full of popular errors, it is true, but at the same time replete with 
curious and interesting details, which have been published in every language 


Fig. 82. Noah's Ark. Miniature of a Commentary upon the Apocalypse. Manuscript of the 
Twelfth Century. In the Library of M. Ambroise Fiitniu-Didot, Paris. 


since the twelfth century, and which, with engravings that often explain 
and complete the text, are buried in the great libraries without having ever 
obtained the honours of print. Most of these works contain singular revela- 
tions as to the nature of plants and of stones, as to the usage and pro- 
perties of simples, as to the hygienic qualities of various foods, &c. Several 
special and less voluminous treatises, written by certain doctors of the twelfth 
century, were alone printed at the close of the fifteenth century. Amongst 
these latter may be mentioned a moral poem entitled, " Auti-Claudianus, sive 
de Officio viri boni et perfecti," which was composed at the close of the 
twelfth century by the celebrated Alain de 1'Isle, or de Lille, called the 

Fig. 83. Monks engaged in Agriculture. Capital Latter in the " Livre do Jurisprudence." 
Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century. In M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot's Library, Paris. 

Universal Doctor, and which contains, with a general table of arts and 
sciences, a number of very sensible remarks on natural history. 

The savants and philosophers of this epoch who had a taste for natural 
sciences were but commentators and compilers, but the thirteenth century 
produced observers, the first of whom were those whom the Crusades and a 
passion for Eastern travel took into distant and hitherto unexplored lands, 
where everything they saw was strange and unknown. Observations, imper- 
fect as they no doubt were, resulted from these voyages, in which the curiosity 
was continually being stimulated by the sight of novel objects ; and the 
natural sciences profited largely by the expeditions, whether political, com- 



mercial, or what not, which were undertaken in Asia and Africa. The 
Mendicant Orders, Franciscans and Grey Friars, Dominicans and Preaching 
Brothers, whom the Church sent forth as her representatives, contributed in 
no small degree to these triumphs of natural history (Fig. 84). A Grey 
Friar, John de Piano Carpini, sent by the Pope upon a mission to a Tartar 

Fig. 84. St. Francis of Assisi talking to the Birds. Miniature from a Psalter of the Thirteenth 
Century. In the Library of M. Ambroise Finnin-Didot, Paris. 

chief (1246), was the first Christian who penetrated into the savage regions 
beyond the Caspian Sea; another Grey Friar, Guillaume Picard, sent by 
St. Louis to the residence of another Asiatic chief, wrote a detailed account 
of his voyage (1253) ; Pierre Ascelin, sent by the Pope into Mongolia, and 
Guillaume de Rubruquis, also sent by St. Louis into the depths of Tartary 
(1253), were alike monks of the Franciscan Order. These travellers, in 



relating their journeys, did not merely record what struck them the most in 
the way of plants, animals, and stones ; they brought back to Europe speci- 
mens which might be of use to science, and serve to correct anything inco- 
herent or exaggerated in what they had written. The most celebrated Indian 
explorer of the thirteenth century, Marco Polo, the Venetian, who passed 
more than twenty years in those then unknown lands, and who penetrated as 
far as China, has left a very curious account of his long journeys, in the 
course of which he relates all that he saw or heard. Natural history occupies 
a large place in his story, which but too often testifies to his ignorance and 
credulity. (See below, chapter on Geographical Sciences.) 

The most prominent botanists of that period, always in regard to the 
materia medica, were : two Englishmen, Gilbert and Hernicus Arviell, who 
travelled, the one through Eiirope, the other through Asia, to study plants 
and prepare treatises on botany ; Simon de Cordo, called Simon of Genoa, 
who had undertaken a herborising expedition into the islands of the Archi- 
pelago and to Sicily, and who, borrowing largely from the Greek and Arab 
writers, compiled a Botanic Dictionary ; and Jean de St. Amand, Canon of 
Tournay, who proceeded experimentally to his discoveries in therapeutics, 
and devoted a remarkable work to the research of the medicinal properties of 
a certain number of simples. But the most learned and experienced of these 
botanists of the thirteenth century was Peter de Crescenzi, or de Crescentiis, 
born at Bologna in 1230, a man of mark both in regard to birth and fortune, 
who had a great predilection for agriculture and horticulture, and who, 
adding to his own observations all that the ancient authors and those of the 
Middle Ages had written about the vegetable productions of nature, com- 
piled a sort of agronomical encyclopaedia called " Opus Ruralium Commo- 
dorum." This great work, replete with information, judicious advice, and 
excellent practical notions, was translated into several languages, and 
especially into French, by order of King Charles V., and called " Livre des 
Proufnts champestres et ruraux." 

Peter de Crescenzi treated but one side of natural history, but three of 
his contemporaries, Vincent of Beauvais, Albertus Magnus, and Arnaud de 
Villeneuve, entered upon the study of this science in a spirit of observation 
which embraced all its aspects. They were, in fact, astrologers, alchemists, 
theologians, and physicians first ; naturalists afterwards. Vincent of Beau- 
vais, a Dominican monk, who had translated the story of the voyage of John 



de Piano Carpini in Great Tartary, became enamoured of tin.-. <lis| im t 
expeditions, which he looked upon as confirmatory of the strangest tales 
of antiquity related by Pliny. These fables he consequently embodied 
in his enormous encyclopaedia, the " Speculum Naturale," not omitting any 
of the superstitious errors of his time. According to him, the mandragora 
.was of the same shape as the human body ; the winged dragon was capable 
of flying off with an ox, and devouring it in mid-air; the Scythian lamb, a 
sort of animal-plant, was attached to the ground by a stem and by roots ; and 

Fig. 86. " How Alexander fought the Dragons and a species of Beast called Scorpion." 
Miniature of a Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century, No. 1 1,040. In the Burgundy Library, 

the tree of life, or the weeping-tree, was to be found, like a living allegory, in 
the harems of the East. Vincent of Beauvais related wonderful stories about 
the basilisk serpent, repeated the old legend of the tenderness of the pelican 
towards her young, spoke of the never-ending flight of the phoenix, and 
declared that in Scotland the fruits of certain trees, when they fall into the 
water, produce black ducks of the species termed black divers. (See the 
chapter on Popular Superstititiu.) This shows that natural history was still 
in its infancy in the reign of St. Louis (Figs. 85, 87, and 95). 

Albertus Magnus, the illustrious Albert de Bollstadt, was not, perhiips, 


more learned than Vincent of Beauvais, but he was a greater logician, and 
ought not to have been subjected to the insult of being credited with the 
authorship of a wretched rhapsody called the "Secrets of the Great Albert," 
and of several similar productions, which, though equally unworthy of him, 
were even more read than some of the most learned books which he really did 
write. But, in response to the aspirations of science in the Middle Ages, he 
had written treatises upon the properties of plants, stones, and animals, which 
were afterwards disfigured and misrepresented by shameless charlatans. 
Arnaud de Villeneuve, whose learning has, without sufficient grounds as it 
seems, been compared to that of Albertus Magnus, had to submit, like the 
latter, to a blundering and unfair interpretation of his doctrines. He had 
studied in the schools of Italy and in that of Montpellier before coming to 
teach, in the University of Paris, medicine and botany, philosophy and 
astrology. This was the first time that lessons in natural history were 
taught concurrently with theology and medicine. The immense number of 
hearers lent still greater notoriety to these lessons, in which the professor 
boldly declared that the most solemn mysteries of the Catholic faith were to 
be explained by the teachings of natural history and experimental physics. 
Scientific teaching so opposed to the dogmas of the Church excited the alarm 
of the Inquisition, and Arnaud de Villeneuve was accused, not of impiety or 
heresy, but of sorcery and magic. It was only through the special protection 
of Charles of Anjou, King of Naples and Sicily, that he was enabled to leave 
France without appearing before the tribunal of the Inquisition, and he 
sought a refuge at the court of this French prince, who retained him as 
physician. Arnaud de Villeneuve found at Naples and Palermo, where he 
had established his residence, greater facilities than he would have enjoyed 
elsewhere for completing his studies in natural history, for this science 
appears to have been specially favoured at the court of the kings of the 
house of Anjou, as at that of the kings of the house of Arragon. After the 
Sicilian Vespers, Arnaud de Villeneuve quitted the service of Charles II., and 
attached himself for the rest of his life to the court of Frederick II., who, 
more than a-ny other sovereign of his time, favoured the study of the natural 
sciences. This king of the Two Sicilies had Aristotle's "History of Animals " 
translated into Latin ; he went to great expense in forming a collection of 
the rarest animals for his royal menagerie from Asia and Africa ; and the 
" Treatise on Falconry," which he found time, amidst the political anxieties 


of his reign, to compose himself, shows that he was very well versed in 
everything relating to birds of prey. 

The study of natural sciences had become more general and complete by 
the beginning of the fourteenth century, though observations from nature 
were not yet given the preference over the ancient descriptions to be found 
in the Greek, Latin, and Arab authors. The difficulty of recognising under its 
Arab name a plant described by Dioscorides also led to endless confusion. 
Thus, for instance, Matthew Sylvaticus of Mantua, who possessed a superb 
botanical garden at Salerno, had great difficulty in putting the right 
names to his plants and ascertaining their specific qualities ; for, though he 
knew Greek, he was ignorant both of Arabic and Hebrew, and hence 

Fig. 86." How Alexander fought the Dragons with Sheep's Horns upon their Foreheads." 
Miniature of a Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century, No. 1 1,040. In the Burgundy Library, 

arose the absurd errors in his nomenclature. The writings of Dino del 
Garbo, the Florentine ; of John Ardern of Newark, the Englishman ; and 
of several other botanists were almost valueless for the same reasons. But 
James Dondi and his son, John dall' Orologio, who worked in concert about 
the middle of the fourteenth century at a perfected Codex of the materia 
medica, lived at Bologna, and studied only the native plants, which they 
have described with great precision and accuracy in their book on Simples, 
written in Latin, with the title of "Liber de Medicamentis Simplicibus," and 
translated into Italian as the Herbolario Vulgare." Another book, inferio 
to the above in every respect, but very much better known, was that 
Bartholomew Glanvil, an English monk, who compiled, for the benefit of 


the wealthy, an encyclopaedia of natural history, filled with popular 
stories and a mass of worthless erudition. This singular work, written in 
Latin it was styled the "Liber de Proprietatibus Rerum" had a great 
reputation so late as the sixteenth century ; it was translated into French by 
Brother Jean Corbichon, under the amphibological title of " Proprietaire des 
choses," at the request of King Charles V., and it was one of the works most 
frequently published in different languages when printing was first invented. 
A like honour was reserved for the treatises which Albert of Saxony, Bishop 
of Halberstadt, had imitated after the analogous treatises of Aristotle and of 
Albertus Magnus, and which enumerated the more or less problematical 
properties of plants, minerals, and animals (Fig. 88). In the fifteenth 
century a light shone upon the darkness of the natural sciences, and this 
light was the art of designing, by which a precise and unvarying form was 
given to the objects described. A German of the Rhine provinces, whose 
very name has ' been forgotten, conceived the idea of executing a work of 
natural history, embellished with paintings intended to illustrate the writer's 
descriptions. This book, entitled "Das Buch der N"atur," was in reality an 
abridged translation of Martin de Cantimpre's Latin work, " De Rcrum 
Natura ; " but it contained a description of various animals, trees, and shrubs, 
represented by figures, which in their drawing and colouring were very true 
to nature. This book earned him such great celebrity that it was one of the 
first books on natural history which the printing-press multiplied throughout 
Germany as early as 1475, when the first edition appeared at Augsburg. 
Wood engraving was henceforward the handmaiden of printing, and they 
combined in offering to the eyes and to the mind some elementary 
notions of the natural sciences. Printing, which, driven from its mys- 
terious sanctuary by the siege and sack of Mayence (1462), had made its 
way, with its typographers and engravers, into the great cities of Italy, 
stimulated the rivalry of philologists and savants in bringing to light the 
literary productions of ancient Greece and Rome. Aristotle, Theophrastus, 
Dioscorides, and, still more, Pliny, at once found translators, commentators, 
and editors. As early as the year 1468 John Spire published at Venice an 
edition of Pliny ; the following year the German printers, Sweynheim and 
Arnold Pannartz, published at Rome a new edition, also in folio, revised and 
corrected by the great philologist, Andrew, Bishop of Aleria. Two years after- 
wards a French printer settled at Venice, Nicholas Jenson, published an edition 



not inferior to either of the above. . The Greek texts of Aristotle and Diosco- 
rides were not published until the beginning of the sixteenth century ; but as 

Fig. 87. The Marine World according to the Conceptions of the Middle Ages. "How Alexander 
lowered himself into the Sea in a Glass Barrel." Miniature of a Manuscript of the Thirteenth 
Century, No. 11,040. In the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

oiirly as I ho yoai- 1 47<i, the "History of Animals," so long neglected, or, to 
sponk more correctly, eclipsed by the philosophical treatises of the illustrious 
pei-ipiitotio of Sliigirii, was translated into Latin by Theodore Gaza. 



The numerous treatises and large works on natural history printed in the 
fifteenth century show how eagerly this science was studied. Those of 
Albertus Magnus, whether really written by him or only attributed to him, 
had an immense circulation. The encyclopaedic compilation of Bartholomew 
Glanvil, " De Proprietatibus Rerum," notwithstanding its deficiencies and 
errors, was reprinted ten times in Latin and in French, while it was being 
translated into English, Spanish, and Dutch, to appear almost simultaneously 
at London, Tolosa, and Haarlem. The excellent work of Peter Crescenzi 
(" Ruralium Commodorum Libri XII."), which ohtained the honour of passing 
through fifteen or twenty editions before the close of the fifteenth century, 
was also translated into several languages. These large folios did not, of 

~M - -% cljtctt DC roer eft cue bcfteen la met qui fa nourzfffbn 
1 1 / prtntet Tue Intcrtc c t en tnet*naige en loraec come mig 
JL-A^oiffoiictuafuttmetovdEmie bede* 

Fig. 88. The Sea-Dog. Fac-similo of a Wood Engraving in the " Dyalogue des Creatures ' 
(Gouda, Gerart Leeii, 1482, in folio). In the Library of 11. AnVbroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

course, reach the country-people, to whom some knowledge of natural history 
was indispensable ; and this knowledge, which they had acquired by practice 
and tradition, was popularised by the miniatures of the calendars placed in 
the frontispieces of books of devotion (Fig. 89), and by wood engravings, 
which also ornamented these calendars. The same subjects were also illus- 
trated in a quantity of almanacs, the most celebrated of which is the 
" Compost et Kalendrier des Bergers." 

The usefulness of plates in a book upon natural history was so generally 
recognised (Fig. 90) that no book upon botany appeared without some wood 
engravings, which were not always, as may well be supposed, very true to 
nature. It was at this period that a Lubeck burgomaster called Arndes went 



to Palestine, taking with him a draftsman who was to sketch for him the 
plants which grow in the Levant. But as the drawings which he brought 
back were not accompanied by any text description, a Mayoiice doctor, one 

tuivfJi ftwttf/ftc a* 

Fig. 89. Sheep-shearing. Miniature from the "Three Ages of Han," unpublished Poem 
attributed to Estienne Porchier. Manuscript of the latter part of the Fifteenth Century. 
In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

John de Cuba, was intrusted with writing the text after the botanical works 
of the Arabs ; and in this way were perpetuated, at great cost, the ancient 


errors which hampered the development of science. At the same time it 
must be said that some very interesting books on Herbalism, enriched with 
handsome wood engravings, were published at Mayence, Passau, and Louvain 
some in Latin, and others in German before the great works of Arndes 
and John de Cuba appeared at Lubeck in 1492. 

At Venice, too, were being printed with marvellous rapidity the works of 
the ancient Arab physicians, Avicenna, Avenzoar, Averroes, and Mesue, 
who treated of natural history in its relation to medicine ; and these publica- 
tions only served to excite hostility against the Arabists, who had copied 
Pliny with all his errors. A learned professor of Ferrara, Nicholas Leoniceno, 
took this opportunity of attacking the Arabic school and its admirers, of 
whom he said, " These people never saw the plants of which they speak ; 
they steal their descriptions from the works of preceding authors, whose 
meaning they often distort : this has led to a veritable chaos of erroneous 
denominations, the confusion being further increased by the inaccuracy of the 
descriptions." In this literary war, which showed how very imperfect was 
the knowledge of natural history at the time when Pliny's work was being so 
widely disseminated by the printing-press, Leoniceno was unjust towards the 
great Roman naturalist, and this he was made to comprehend by the cele- 
brated Venetian humanist, Ermolao Barbaro, in a reply in favour of Pliny. 
The latter, in correction of the faults to be found in Pliny's work, published 
a book entitled " Castigationes Plinianae," but that writer's "Natural 
History " was for the time discredited in most of the schools in Italy. 

Taking advantage of this discredit, which increased the demand for the 
works of Aristotle, Theophrastus, and Dioscorides, the Aldi, skilful Venetian 
printers, brought out the original and hitherto unpublished texts of the 
Greek naturalists. Aldus Manutius had himself revised, after the ancient 
manuscripts, these priceless works, which were so anxiously scanned by the 
lovers of antiquity. They published at about the same time other modern 
works upon natural history, amongst them being several treatises of Georges 
Valla upon plants, and a Botanic Lexicon after the Greek authors. The study 
of botany was also in great favour amongst French savants. A Parisian 
printer, Pierre Caron, published, about 1495, " L'Arbolayre," a new herbal 
dictionary, illustrated with a great many wood engravings ; and this work, 
extracted from the medical treatises of Avicenna, Rhazes, Constantino, Isaac, 
and Plateaire, was reprinted, with the title of " Grand Herbier en Fra^ois," 


by six or eight Paris publishers. . Botany seemed to hold the first place in 
natural history, and the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 
1492 gave a fresh impetus to the study of the flora of that great continent. 

The precious metals were at first the only articles of importation, but 
it was soon found that the materia medica might be greatly increased by 
the vegetable growth of the New "World, and the disinterested love of science 
induced several learned men to cross the ocean. Italian, German, Spanish, 
and Portuguese naturalists applied themselves with zeal to examining and 

Fig. 90. River Fishing. Fac-eimile of a Wood Engraving in a Latin Edition of Pliny 

(Frankfort, 1584, in folio). 

testing the numerous productions of this newly discovered land. Other 
naturalists, passing by the marvels of the American continent, devoted their 
attention to Asia, which they explored to more purpose than their pre- 
decessors had done. In presence of a nature absolutely new and unknown, 
the first naturalists who visited America were obliged to abandon the teach- 
ing of the past, and rely upon the results of their own direct and personal 
observations. This brought about a complete revolution in science. Travels 
really useful for purposes of natural history became general. Jean Le'on, 
surnamed the African, visited Egypt, Arabia, Armenia, and Persia, noting 
with great care the various characteristics presented by the three kingdoms. 


Peter Martyr (Pietro Martire d'Anghiera), while on a diplomatic mission in 
the East, verified upon the spot, book in hand, the statements of Aristotle, 
Theophrastus, and Dioscorides ; John Manardi, a doctor of Ferrara, her- 
borised in Poland and Hungary ; and Jacques Dubois, the Amiens doctor, 
surnamed Sylvius, travelled all through France, Germany, and Italy in order 
to study nature. 

. Gradually the taste for scientific travel became general, arid bore its 
natural fruits. Valuable collections of natural history were formed, exotic 
plants were acclimatised, and animals domesticated. Horticulture became a 
practical science ; to kitchen and fruit gardens were added pleasure-grounds; 
and it was a Metz priest, Master Francois, who invented the "herbaceous 
ingraftment," the secret of which has only recently been recovered. The 
culture of many new plants gave still further development to botany, which 
had its special chairs in most of the leading Universities ; and those of Ferrara, 
Bologna, and Padua had the advantage of being filled by Ghini and 
Brasavola. The best botanists were the doctors, whose main object was to 
extend the domain of the materia medica, and who all published large books 
written in Latin and replete with engravings : Otho Brtmfels, of Mayence, 
his " Herbarum Vivas Icones " (1530-36) ; Euricius Cordus, of Cologne, whose 
son Valerino became one of the greatest botanists in Germany, his " Botano- 
logicum " (1534) ; and Leonard Fuchs, a Bavarian, his " Commentarii 
Insignes " (1542). It would be impossible to enumerate here all the works 
on natural history, on botany more particularly, which appeared during the 
first half of the sixteenth century in Germany, Holland, and Italy, and 
which testify to the vigorous growth of the new science. It must, however, 
be said that, out of the countless cosmopolitan travellers who went to the 
West Indies in search of fortune, one only, Gonzales Fernandes of Oviedo, 
brought back with him the materials for a really important work on natural 
history. This work he entitled " La Historia general y natural de las Indias " 
(Seville, 1535, in folio), and it contains a very accurate description of the 
animals, trees, shrubs, and plants of Southern America. 

France, whose artists had enriched so many liturgical and religious manu- 
scripts (Fig. 91) with paintings of flowers, birds, butterflies, and insects, 
very readily took part in the study of natural history. Charles Estienne, 
anatomist and botanist, one of the most distinguished members of the family 
of Parisian printers which conferred so much renown upon the name of 

NA TURAL .SY'/A'.Vf V/.s. 


Kstienne, composed several short treatises 
on agronomy, horticulture, botany, and 
sylviculture, which, together with 'his vo- 
cabulary of natural history, were fre- 
quently reprinted. These various treatises, 
afterwards collected into one, constituted a 
great work entitled " Praedium Rusticum," 
which his son-in-law, Lie'baut, popularised, 
translating it into 'French, with several 
additions, and calling it the " Maison Rus- 
tique." Gardening, became the fashion in 
France, and every one was anxious to pos- 
sess some new plant or some flower brought 
from a great distance. The royal gardens 
at Fontainebleau and Chambord were laid 
out at great expense, and made models of 
what, as it was then considered, kitchen, 
fruit, and flower gardens ought to be. The 
gardens of the Chateau d'Alen9on, laid out 
under the instructions of Marguerite, sister 
of Fran9ois I., were specially famous. More- 



Fig. 91. Border of a Pago in Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, " Vie de St. Jr9me." In the 
Library of SI. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 


over, princes and prelates, nobles and plebeians, seemed to take an interest in 
horticulture : the greater was political agitation, the greater seemed the attrac- 
tions of country life. Cardinal de Chatillon had magnificent plantations at 
Maillezais, of which place he was bishop ; and Francois Rabelais, during 
his stay at Rome, sent him various kinds of seeds and plants which were 
imported into France for the first time, and became indigenous. The two 
leading statesmen of this period, Cardinal du Bellay and Cardinal de 
Lorraine, also deserve mention in the history of gardening, for they 
encouraged the pursuit of botany, and sought repose from the cares of 
state,, the one at the Abbey of St. Maur, and the other at the Chateau de 
Meudon, where they passed their time amidst the trees and flowers. At 
this period there were no public botanical gardens in France, like those of 
Passau in Bavaria, and of Pisa and Florence in Italy, though Jean Ruel, 
Dean of the Paris Faculty and physician to Fra^ois I., explained in his 
valuable work, " De Natura Stirpium " (Paris, 1536, in folio), the necessity 
of creating such a garden for the teaching of practical medicine. 

The era of Transatlantic voyages, which followed the discovery of America, 
was a very fruitful one, and the maritime voyages of discovery and conquest 
were succeeded by scientific voyages. Distant lands, drawn closer to Europe 
by the ties of commerce, were opened for the researches of science. The first 
facts of natural history, collected from beyond the seas, both from East and 
West, from Mexico and Brazil as from China and Japan, were due to the 
Jesuits, who have left us true and interesting accounts of the countries into 
which they carried the standard of Christianity. Valuable information was 
also given by the diplomatic agents in foreign countries. Busbecq, who was 
the ambassador of three German emperors in Turkey, took with him the 
learned naturalist of Sienna, Andrew Mattioli, to assist him in his botanical 
researches. Pelicier, French ambassador at Venice, had as his secretary and 
physician the learned Guillaume Rondelet ; and Cardinal du Bellay, ambas- 
sador of Francois I. to the Holy See, attached to his suite the great Rabelais 
in a similar capacity, who, however, has not left us any of the works he may 
have composed during his travels in Italy. Guillaume Rondelet, on the other 
hand, published several works on Ornithology and Ichthyology. A French 
naturalist still more celebrated, Pierre Belon, who accompanied Cardinal de 
Tournoii in several of his diplomatic missions, was supplied by him with the 
means of travelling in Palestine, Egypt, and Arabia, where he completed and 


revised two monographs which he had in preparation upon birds and fishes ; 
and these two works he published upon his return from his travels (1551 and 
1555), with illustrations which he had himself made after nature, but which 
were not all of them accurate. 

Two men of genius one a German, George Agricola, the other a Swiss, 
Conrad Gesner divided supremacy at that time in the domain of natural 
history. The first occupied the position in regard to mineralogy which the 
latter held in botany and zoology. George Landman Agricola, bom at 
Chemnitz, in Saxony, in 1494, had studied in the Universities of France and 
Italy ; while Gesner, born at Zurich in 1516, had been educated in the 
schools of Paris and Montpellier. Agricola at first practised medicine, and 
distinguished himself by his experiments in regard to what was called 
chemical medicine. The study of chemistry led up to that of mineralogy, and 
he devoted his whole time to the latter science, exploring the mines of 
Bohemia and Saxony. It was in this way that he acquired a profound 
knowledge of everything relating to the working of metals. In his works 
on Mineralogy the chemical part is treated with as much precision and 
learning as the docimastic part. These great works, translated into different 
languages, and of which several editions were printed, earned for him more 
reputation than profit, as he employed all his means in making costly 
researches and experiments. Conrad Gesner did not attempt to rival 
Agricola upon the field of mineralogy, turning his attention more specially 
to the study of animals and of plants. He was, in reality, the originator of 
scientific botany. Classing the plants by genus and kind, he was the first to 
discover the.means of recognising each genus and kind by examining the organs 
of fructification. In this way he discovered more than eighteen hundred new 
kinds. His intention was to publish a work upon the natural history of the 
whole world, and his erudition would have enabled him to complete this 
immense task had his life been spared, but he only lived long enough to 
write the first four books of his " History of Animals " (1551, 1554, 1555, 
and 1558), which comprised the viviparous and oviparous tribes, the birds 
and the fishes. His pupils, Gaspard Wolff and Joachim Camerarius, were 
his executors, and they published the incomplete materials which he had left 
behind him in regard to the vegetable kingdom, the serpents, and the fossils. 
Gesner, who passed nearly all his life in his study at Zurich, was in per- 
manent communication with the principal travellers of his day, such as Andre 


Thevet and Pierre Grilles ; with the leading naturalists, such as Eondelet, 
Belon, and Aldrovandus ; with the greatest botanists, such as Dalechamp, 
Maranda, Adam Lonicer, and Rainbert Dodoens, surnamed Dodonajus. The 
books of Gesner may, therefore, be looked upon as the store in which were 
deposited all the facts and discoveries in natural history during his day. 

Gesner's works show that at this period science, notwithstanding the want 
of classification which militated against an harmonious and complete con- 
ception of the work of nature, had reached a very advanced stage. All 
that remained was to submit the mass of information to a philosophic and 
methodical classification. Thus, in that part of his great work which Gesner 
published himself, after ranging the animals alphabetically, with their Latin 
names followed by those used in different languages, he describes them 
minutely, indicating their origin, their varieties, their habits, their diseases, 
their utility in domestic economy, industry, medicine, and arts, and quoting, 
in reference to each, the different passages which he had extracted from 
ancient and modern authors. Belon, although less erudite than Gesner, 
attempted to class the birds according to their instinctive habits, and in some 
cases according to their external appearance ; but he had no settled system, 
and his most ingenious suggestions failed to bring to his knowledge the 
unvarying order of natural laws in the formation of species. Rondelet went 
even further than Gesner and Belon, as he attempted to ascertain by com- 
parative anatomy the analogies and differences of species, but he did not 
succeed in establishing a general and systematic plan in zoology. Botany 
was much further advanced than the other branches of natural history, for 
Gesner not only discovered the elements for the classification of plants, but 
the conscientious researches of a number of excellent botanists advanced 
further and further the frontiers of a science which embraced the whole 
vegetable world. Though henceforward the method of observation was the 
only one admitted in scientific matters, the books of the ancient naturalists 
were translated and commentated, and Aristotle, Theophrastus, Dioscorides, 
and Pliny recovered full authority. 

There was, however, a man of genius who, knowing nothing of Greek or 
Latin, and devoid of all regular education, discovered the fundamental bases 
of nature, which were only recognised three centuries later, and who, as far 
back as the sixteenth century, established the principles upon which repose 
geology, physics, and natural history. This was a humble labourer in 



Perigord, called Bernard Palissy, who, 
at the age of fivc-and-twenty, left his 
native village, where he had been earn- ' 
ing a scanty living as a potter, and 
start i'd on a journey, staff in hand 
and wallet on back, through France, 
Germany, and Holland, practising dif- 
ferent manual trades at one time 
glazier, at another geometer, and at 
another designer. Wherever he went 
he studied the topography of the dis- 
trict, the irregularities of the ground, 
the course of the streams, the mines, 
and the natural productions and 'spe- 
cialities of the country. He questioned 
the inhabitants as to the objects which 
attracted his attention, and so acquired 
for himself a scientific education by 
the sole force of his own intelligence. 
After five years of wandering, in the 
course of which he learnt, to .use his 
own expression, " science with the 
teeth," he returned home and settled 
in Saintonge. While continuing his 
trade of surveyor and painter on glass, 
he sought to discover the secret of 
making enamelled pottery (Fig. 92), 
similar to that which Italy manu- 
factured with so much skill, and which 
was much in favour at every court in 
Europe. Palissy worked at this scheme 
for ten or twelve years before discover- 
ing the coloured enamel which he re- 
quired to cover the pottery. He thus Fig. 02.-Table Ornament, from the Palace of 

. , the Bishop of Lieieux. Enamelled Pottery 
equalled those whom he had copied, of the sixteenth (> ntu ^._i n the Election 

and he soon surpassed them by making of M. Achille Jubinal. 



vases and dishes which were decorated with figures of flowers, herbs, shells, 
.insects, and reptiles. Palissy, whose earthenware was very highly esteemed 
when it appeared at the French court, placed himself under the protection 
of the Constable of Montmorency, and obtained the title of "Inventeur 
des rustiques figulines du roi." (See in the volume on " Arts," chapter on 

. He was summoned to Paris by order of the King, and Catherine de' 
Medicis gave him a workshop in the gardens of the Tuileries. It was then 
that he described, in a course of public lectures, the result of his discoveries 
and his theories on natural history. Referring to this, he wrote, " I dis- 

Fig. 93. Mark of Barthelemy Berton, printer at Kochelle, upon the Title-page of the " Discourg 
admirables," by Bernard Palissy, published at La Rochelle in 1563, small quarto. 

played placards at the comers of the streets, in order to assemble the most 
learned physicians and others, promising to explain to them in three lectures 
all that I knew in regard to fountains, stones, metals, and other bodies. And 
in order that the audience might consist only of the most learned and those 
most anxious to instruct themselves, I stated in my placards that no one 
would be admitted except on payment of a crown ; and this I did to see what 
could be advanced in opposition to my views, knowing well that if I made 
any false statements they would infallibly be caught up." We do not, 
unfortunately, possess any further particulars as to these conferences at which 
thirty-two most honourable and learned persons took part, in addition to many 



others not so distinguished. Palissy, however, asserts that his 
wore not once questioned. He repeated his lectures every year, from 1575. 
with increased success, and in 1580 he published his great work, which was, 
no doubt, a resume of his public lectures, entitled " Admirable Discourses," 
&c. (see Fig. 93). 

Fig. 94. The Vegetable Kingdom. Mark of Guillaume Merlin, Bookseller at Paris, in the 
middle of the Sixteenth Century.-The design of this typographical mark is attributed 
Jean Cousin. 

It is only since Palissy's time that geology has obtained a recognised 
place in science. He stated that the petrified fish discovered in the i 
had been born there at a time when the rocks were only water and mud. 
whirl, (MMM potriticd ximultni.-ously with tin- fish;" but these views wer 



not generally recognised as true until the time of Cuvier and Brongniart. 
Palissy was two or three hundred years in advance of the epoch in which he 
lived, for he asserted that when the fossils were formed men and certain 
kinds of animals did not exist ; he distinguished between the water due to 
crytallization and the water of vegetation ; he laid down the laws of the 
affinity of salts in the development of stones and metals ; he investigated 
the origin of clouds, of springs, of earthquakes, of mineral or spring waters, 
and of potable waters ; he started, in fact, the great questions of natural 
philosophy, of organic chemistry, of mineralogy, and of agronomy. Yet 

Fig. 94. Mark of Charles Estienne, Printer at Paris, in the First Edition of his Work entitled 
"Prsedium Kustioum." (See page 125.) 

Bernard Palissy exercised little influence upon the science of his day, and he 
was not looked upon as more than a skilful potter. 

It is true that this period of civil and religious wars was not very favour- 
able to the silent meditations of science, but the naturalists more especially 
the botanists careless as to what was going on in the political world, saw 
nothing and heard nothing of what passed outside their studies (Fig. 94). 

Towards the close of the sixteenth century there were two savants who 
discovered the true principles as to the classification of plants. Matthias 
Lobel, born at Lille in 1538, but who, after several long botanical expeditions, 
settled in England, first of all arranged them into families such as the 
grasses, the orchids, the palm tribe, and the mosses and compared the mint 
tribe and the umbelliferous plants. Andrew Cesalpin, professor of botany at 


Pisa, compared the process of generation in animals to the seed of plants, 
distinguishing male plants by their stamen, and considering the plants which 
yielded seed as female. He further divided plants into fifteen classes, with 
male and female genders in each. To Cesalpin, therefore, belongs the honour 
of having invented the first system of botany, a branch of natural history 
which was studied very eagerly, and the development and progress of which 
were materially assisted by the numerous exploring expeditions all over the 
globe (Fig. Q4a). 

How important were these conquests of science may be gathered by 
examining the two thousand six hundred wood plates in the " Histoire 
generate des Plantes," written in French, after the notes of Jacques Dale- 
champ, and the two thousand five hundred plates in the botanical treatise 
of the Alsatian Jacques-Theodore Tabernsoniontanus, written in German, and 
published in 1588-90. At that time the rage was for bulky volumes with 
abundant illustrations, especially in regard to natural history ; and yet, when 
Dr. Francis Hernandez was ordered by Philip II., to whom he had been 
acting as physician, to collect in one volume all the animal, vegetable, and 
mineral productions of Mexico, he could not find during his lifetime a 
publisher who would engrave the twelve hundred figures which he had had 
painted at a cost of sixty thousand ducats. The engravings and publications 
on natural history which Theodore de Bry and his sons executed at Frank- 
fort had more success when they came out in the splendid collection known 
to bibliographists as the "Grands et Petits Voyages." 

Fig. 95. The Phoenix rising from his Ashes. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving in the 
Latin Edition of Pliny (Frankfort. 1602, in folio). 


Decline of Medicine after the death of Hippocrates. The School of Galen. The School of 
Alexandria. Talismans and Orisons against Illness. Monastic Medicine. Female Doctors. 
The Arab Schools. The Schools of Naples, Monte Casino, and Salerno. The Hospitallers. 
The School of Cordova. Epidemics coming from the East. The appearance of Military 
Surgery. The Schools of Montpellier and Paris. Lanfranc as upholder of Surgery. 
College of St. Cosmo at Paris. Guy de Chauliac. Rivalry of the Surgeons and the Barhers. 
Medical Police. The Occult Sciences in Medicine. Rivalry of the Surgeons and the 
Doctors. The Doctors in the Sixteenth Century. Andrew Vesalius. Ambroise Pare. 

HRISTIANITY, as might be expected, 
exercised a great and immediate influence 
npon the practice and the science of 
medicine. Christ healing the sick by the 
laying on of hands, restoring sight to 
the blind and making the lame to walk 
by an appeal to God, and raising the 
dead to life in the name of the Father, 
seemed to intimate to the world that 
prayer and faith were the best remedies 
against human ills. 
Medicine and its indispensable accompaniment, the art of surgery, under- 
went, subsequently to the death of Hippocrates, transformations due to the 
rival sects of dogmatism and empiricism, without making any real progress. 
Men of intelligence, but too hampered by scepticism or materialism, such as 
Themison of Laodicea and Soranus of Ephesus, founded a new doctrine called 
Methodism, which made the science of medicine rest upon the analogous and 
mutual relations of the organic affections' to one another. This doctrine, 
which took no account of anatomical studies, admitted only two principles or 
causes of illness, strictum and laxttm that is to say, the contraction and the 
relaxation of the tissues ; and the invariable course of treatment was either 


to relax the tissues which were too contracted, or to contract those which 
were too relaxed. The methodists had no idea of the action of the mind 
upon the morbid state of the human Ixxl . 

It was the philosophy of Plato, renewed and revived in the schools, which 
inspired the doctrine of pneumatism, which attributed to the soul (mrS/ia in 
Greek) a considerable part in the diseases of the body as well as in all the acts 
of human existence. Pneumatism, adopting the formulae of the peripatetics, 
and based upon precise data of anatomy, in time gave birth to eclecticism, 
which was professed by Athemeus of Cilicia, Agathus of Sparta, Philip of 
Caesarea, Aretous of Cappadocia, and, lastly, by Galen, who was the greatest 
of the eclecticians. Galen, born at Pergamus in the year 131 B.C., studied in 
the school of Alexandria, and it was there that he learnt to argue with much 
talent against the already discredited methods, from out of the elements of 
which, duly sifted and selected, he created the eclectic system, founded upon 
anatomy and observation. His encyclopaedic spirit, the success of his teaching, 
the excellent results of his scientific journeys, the diversity and the variety 
of his writings, caused him to be looked upon as nothing short of an oracle 
when, upon coming to Rome, he became the physician of the Emperor 
Marcus Aurelius. The sympathies of that monarch for the Christians were 
undoubtedly shared by Galen, who was as well versed in the Bible as in the 
books of Plato. He was an anatomist in his early career, but he specially 
distinguished himself afterwards as a physiologist and psychologist. No 
doctor, before him, had formed any conception as to the extent of Divine 
action upon the least important of human affairs : he defined and compre- 
hended the part of the soul beneath its corporal covering, but without pro- 
nouncing as to the question of its immortality. This ingenious definition 
of the irvev/ia, the part which he assigns it in the sensorial functions, the 
difference which he distinctly asserts between the nerves of feeling and those 
of motion, and his division of the forces of the body into three kinds vital, 
animal, and natural are so many touches of genius, which, though but mere 
glimmers of truth at first, afterwards shone out as bright lights and resplen- 
dent truths. According to Galen, the health of the body depended upon an 
equal and uniform mixture of solids and liquids, and its illness from their 
disproportion and inequality. Consequently, a clever physician should always 
foresee illness, by judging as to its immediate or remote causes, its predis- 
posing or accidental causes. Galen was in advance of his time ; his ideas as 


to inflammations, loss of blood, intermittent fevers ; his system of antipathies 
and sympathies, of indications and counter-indications, appertain not less to 
physiology than to pathology and therapeutics, and show how superior he 
was to his contemporaries and predecessors. 

Yet, after his death, the doctrines of Hippocrates again obtained preva- 
lence, though the materialist tendencies seem to be directly opposed to the 
spiritualism of the Christian faith. The latter, however, did not disown 
these theories in medico-philosophic science ; and the early monks, who were 
physicians of the body as well as of the mind, began to transcribe the aphorisms 
of Hippocrates, the principal treatises of Galen, and the vast repertory of a 
Greek physician, Coelius Aurelianus, who had taken up and commentated all 
the books of the methodists. In these times of trouble and uncertainty, pro- 
fessional teaching had no other sources of knowledge. The cities of Athens, 
Rome, and Alexandria still had schools of philosophy which attracted a 
motley crowd of professors and students, and any one was admitted, whether 
Greek or Arab, Gaul or Roman, Christian or Jew ; for the only restriction 
upon complete freedom of instruction was that the laws of the state and the 
prevailing religion should not be attacked by the teachers or their pupils. 
To this may be traced in the philosophy of that day, as it was called, a 
strange amalgamation of Eastern reveries and scriptural traditions, of pagan 
superstitions and Christian legends. The most intelligent men of that time 
believed that "famine, death, foul air, and epidemics are caused by evil spirits, 
who, enveloped in a cloud, flit through the lower regions of the atmosphere, 
to which they are attracted by the blood and the incense offered up to the 
false divinities. But for the odour of the sacrifices, these spirits would not 
exist. It is to them alone that are due the wonderful cures attributed to 
^Esculapius" (Fig. 96). 

When these ideas were held by the most talented men of the time, it is 
not astonishing that the common herd should have sought relief for bodily 
ills in practices of magic and piety, having recourse to talismans, and placing 
implicit confidence in certain words, formulae, figures, and cabalistic signs, the 
effect of which was, as they believed, to exorcise the evil spirits and obtain 
the assistance of the good spirits. 

As the temples of ^Esculapius, Hygeia, and Serapis were closed and 
these divinities were altogether neglected by the end of the fourth century 
Christianity opened its churches and its monasteries to the sick, who received 

M/-:DICA i. SCII-:.\CES. 


there gratuitously the best attention that charity, still very devoid of science, 
but animated by the precepts of the gospel, could offer to the indigent. The 
\v;mts both of the body and the soul* Were ministered to. The first Irjx-r- 
houses, in which were treated not only leprosy, but the other skin diseases 
which were so frequent at that day, were erected close to the church. The 
hydropathic treatment, which was in accordance with the Christian as it had 
been with the Hebrew faith, became general under the combined influence of 
religious symbolism and hygienic principles. Many mineral sources and 
fountains which, though they had lost the patronage of the local divinities, 
were not the less crowded at fixed epochs, were placed beneath the tutelary 

Fig. 96. Celtic Monument discovered at Paris, beneath the Choir of Notre-Damo, in 1711. 
(According to several archusologists, the bas-relief represents the Gallic -iEsculapius.) 

protection of various saints, to whom popular opinion attributed a special 
action in the cure of diseases. 

In the beginning of the fifth century the practice of medicine, like that 
of surgery, which was not yet a distinct branch, continued to be free, without 
any authorisation being required. There were even women who, like the 
Druidesses of the Gauls, treated the sick. Charmem, unconscious, no doubt, 
of the occult forces which they set at work, proceeded by means of magnetism 
to cure, or at all events to relieve, neuralgic pains ; country bone-setters were 
very expert in remedying fractures and dislocations of the limbs ; and nume- 
rous oculists, impostors of the worst kind, who had learnt while serving in the 
army what little they knew about ocular diseases, made large sums of money 




by scouring the country with their lotions and quintessences. But at the 
bottom of all this popular medicine lurked the most outrageous empiricism. 
Yet the authorities of the large towns engaged municipal doctors, who, to 
judge by the inscriptions on their tombs, were not devoid of ability, and 
rendered considerable service. The public teaching of medicine followed the 
fortunes of the Roman empire, and migrated from Rome to Byzantium in 
the reign of Constantino. Yet the barbarians, in their repeated invasions, 
did not destroy the schools at Treves, Aries, Bordeaux, and Marseilles. 
Alexandria and Athens more especially continued to be luminous centres of 
intellectual labour, though Greek medicine, which alone was taught there, 

.^ ^h rfjicognc ctt ntig opfeou cgrpticrrae totnc 0t popi'e te! 
It J Ion la lop o:De plue cj touc lee nuf tree opfcaug ror ellc 
M njat f c no uut q (K clj a to gncG inottee cm pzrc (ce t me 6 DC 
(a mccoitOce tmictce cmugucfcs oeufe oeaferpcect fc purge 

Fig. 97. The Stork its own Doctor, as testified to by Papias. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving 
in the "Dyalogue des Creatures" (Gouda, Gerart Leeu, 1482, in folio). In the Library of 
M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

had embraced theories derived both from dogmatism and empiricism, which 
continued to prevail throughout the Middle Ages. 

Oribasius of Pergamus, physician to the Emperor Julian the Apostate, 
was, at the close of the fourth century, one of the last representatives of 
pagan science : his writings, in which he had summarised the labours of 
many Greek physicians, were adopted by the sect of Nestorians, who cultivated 
more particularly philosophy and medicine. The Nestorian school of Edessa 
soon eclipsed the school of Alexandria, and shared the renown attaching to the 
Athens school ; but as at Edessa the propagation of Nestorianism was mixed 
up with scientific teaching, the school suffered, from the persecution which 
the Eastern emperors, Theodosius II. and Leo the Isaurian, waged against the 



licivsy of Nestorius. The professors u hose orthodoxy was not in conformity 
with that of the Greek Church were deprived of their salaries by a decree of 
Justinian, who at the same time wrought the final ruin of the Athens school. 

The chairs of philosophy and medicine were not, however, altogether 
untenanted in the East, for the Arab schools were still in existence, though 
their teaching did not go beyond a few books of Pliny the Elder, of Dioscorides, 
of Aristotle, and of Galen, very imperfectly translated from Greek or Latin 

Fig. 8. Physician, from the " Danse Macabre," Guyot Marchant edition, 1490. 

into Syriac, and then retranslated into Arabic with a multiplicity of errors 
(Fig. 97). The school of Alexandria had ceased to be more than a shadow of 
her former self, the lessons of the masters of science were forgotten, and all 
that she possessed was a few rhetoricians, who, instead of confining themselves 
to a careful observation of causes and effects, commentated apocryphal and 
ridiculous books, and applied themselves to the discovery of useless or insen- 
sate solutions. Thus, for instance, they discussed why the hand has five 


fingers instead, of six ; why such and such an intestine is of one shape more 
than of another ; why the human head is round, &c. In the meanwhile the 
monks of Mount Lebanon and the ascetics of Mount Atlas, in obedience to 
the rules of their order, worked incessantly at the translation and copying 
committing many blunders, unfortunately of the early texts relating to 
the theory of medicine, in order that the information possessed by the ancients 
might not be lost to the Christian world. 

Amidst all these obscurities of science, a few illustrious savants formed 
bright exceptions. Thus Aetius, of Amidu in Mesopotamia, was to the fifth 
what Alexander of Tralles was to the middle of the sixth century. The 
former, a Greek physician, collected, under the title of " Tetrabiblos," the 
observations and doctrines of his predecessors, completing and elucidating 
them with great judgment. For instance, his work contains a very plausible 
theory upon fever, a detailed description of the principal diseases of the eye, 
and a series, of very precise descriptions of the functional disorders caused in 
the organism by various morbid complaints. His therapeutics in cases of 
acute disease are based upon the principles of Hippocrates, and prove that he 
possessed real learning, enriched by experience and refined by excellent logic. 
Amongst pther things, Aetius advocates a regular diet and care in the selec- 
tion of aliments ; he points out the good effects of fresh air and cold water in 
cases of angina and in pulmonary complaints. " May the God of Abraham 
and of Jacob," he exclaimed when preparing one of his remedies, " give to 
this medicine the virtues which I believe it to possess ! " (Fig. 98.) 

After Aetius comes Alexander of Tralles, whose medical reputation 
was very great in the sixth century. No Greek doctor since the days of 
Hippocrates had equalled him with regard to practical science, professional 
sagacity, and literary merit. He had made himself acquainted with all the 
facts which had been observed and collated before his time ; but he did not 
allow himself to become the slave of any scientific authority, or to be seduced 
by any doctrine, recognising no other guide than his own experience. He 
possessed to a supreme degree the art of diagnosis, and he laid down as a 
principle that no decision should be arrived at, as to the treatment of a case, 
until the specific and individual causes of the disease have been carefully 
sought out and considered. His views upon melancholia and gout, his dislike 
of violent aperients and the abuse of opium, his preference for laxatives in 
cases of dysentery and for emetics in cases of intermittent fever, testify both 




to the independence and accuracy of his observations, and show that he knew 
how to apply with advantage the most conflicting theories. He was the first 
to resort to bleeding from the jugular vein, and to use iron filings in certain 
affections of the blood. 

In the seventh century the Jewish doctors endeavoured to possess them- 
selves of the teaching of medicine in the East, forming at Damascus and 
Constantinople scientific assemblies, in which all real learning was lost in the 
obscurities of cabalism. The East, always a land of illusions and fancies, was 
only too accessible to the superstitious ideas implied in the magical and 
supernatural treatment of disease. This mixture of error and truth is 
nowhere more noticeable than in the Koran, a compilation which is as much 
scientific as it is religious, and to which doctors from the schools of Alex- 
andria and Dschoudisapour (the town founded by Sapor II.) must have con- 
tributed in the name of Mahomet, for this code of Islamism contains, with 
regard to physiology and hygiene, some very remarkable views and excellent 
principles summarised in the shape of aphorisms which often remind one of 
the language of Hippocrates. It is worth while mentioning here that, long 
before Mahomet's time, the Arab doctors, who were also poets, legists, and 
philosophers, had their share in the sacerdotal influences which contributed to 
the civilisation of the Eastern races. Thus, when the conquests of Mahomet 
had been consolidated with the sword, the native and foreign doctors residing 
at Irak found greater security and protection from the Mussulmans at Bagdad 
and Bassora than from the Emperors at Byzantium. 

Paul of ^Egineta was, in the seventh century, the last personage of note 
belonging to the expiring school of Alexandria. This Greek doctor, whose 
pathology was based upon the principles of Galen, Aetius, and Oribasius, also 
had a system of his own for the treatment of different diseases, such as 
ophthalmia, gout, and leprosy, which latter was spreading with frightful 
rapidity. He inclined more towards methodism and eclecticism than towards 
empiricism. One of his contemporaries, named Ahrun, who was not probably 
a student of the Alexandria school, though he afterwards practised medicine 
in that city, where he was a Christian priest, published a judicious treatise 
upon various epidemics, such as scurvy and small-pox, which latter disease 
had just made its appearance and was spreading rapidly, three centuries 
before the Arab doctor, Rhazes, gave a more detailed description of them. 

The celebrated schools which had been founded at Bagdad, the new capital 


of the Caliphs of the East, and at Cordova (Fig. 99), the new capital of the 
Caliphs of Spain, were simultaneously illustrated, at long intervals, by Hesue 
the elder, John Damascenus or Serapion, Leo the Philosopher, Rhazes, and 
Ali, surmirned the Magician, the last mentioned of whom apparently embodied 
all the medical science of the Arabs, which reached its apogee in the tenth 
century by appropriating to the climate and to the customs of the country 
the principles of Galen, and basing his system upon a mass of observations 
which he continued up to the age of a hundred. Greek medicine had under- 
gone a complete metamorphosis through its gradual fusion with that of the 
Arabs, just as pathological questions varied in their object and character 
under the influence of the new habits and requirements of modern civilisa- 

In the West medical science was still very backward, though It had not 
to contend, as in the East, with- a religious fanaticism which forbade all 
kinds of drawings, even those necessary to a scientific description of the 
diseases of the human body, and which punished as a crime the dissection of 
a corpse. The reason was that it had no protectors since the disappearance 
of the last of the Goths in the eighth century, and it was scarcely taught at 
all in the schools of Southern Gaul. The monastic orders had monopolized 
the practice of medicine, and, as a natural consequence of the sacred mission 
intrusted to them by their founder, they attempted to combine remedies for 
the body with remedies for the mind. Prayer, holy water, the touching of 
relics, and pilgrimages to holy places were the general accessories of monkish 
therapeutics, which relied upon Providence for the cure of the sick, upon 
whom, however, every care and attention was lavished. The monks also 
possessed a number of pharmaceutical receipts which were in daily use, 
though they were derived rather from tradition than from science ; they were 
likewise acquainted with the medicinal properties of herbs, which they used 
t'rrely for wounds and sores. 

It was not till the close of the eighth century that there was a regular 
course of medical instruction, and it was organized at Monte Casino and 
Salerno, in the kingdom of Naples ; and the principles of the teaching 
imparted there were drawn up in the shape of aphorisms, which remained 
known long after the schools themselves had disappeared. At this epoch 
iiiiiny ecclesiastics Italian, French, Belgian, and German commissioned by 
the Holy See as Apostolic Legates, went to England, Scotland, and Ireland, 



and founded schools there, which in a short time contributed to the spread 
'of science in France, Belgium, and Germany. (See Chapter I., Universities.) 
Medicine continued, as before, to be one of the branches of philosophy. 

When the municipal regime arose upon the ruins of the empire of 
Charlemagne, when the spirit of independence and isolation gave laymen a 
share with ecclesiastics in civil functions, a struggle of interest and vanity 
commenced between these two distinct classes, which composed society at 
that tune. The monks soon saw that if they were to retain their monopoly 

Fig. 100. Cure through the Intercession of a Healing Saint. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving 
attributed to Holbein, in the German Translation of the " Consolation of Philosophy," by 
Boethius, Augsburg Edition, 1537, in folio. 

in medicine, threatened by the laymen, they must extend their knowledge 
both of medicine and of surgery ; and the consequence was that as 
physicians they made great progress. The monastic rules laid down the 
study of the " De Re Medica," a treatise by Celsus, who was styled the 
Latin Hippocrates. Moreover, numbers of monks and priests left their 
cloisters and dioceses to wander through the land, devoting themselves to the 
relief of suffering humanity. Of these were Thieddeg, doctor to Boleslns, 
King of Poland ; Hugh, Abbot of St. Denis ; and others. The illustrious 

MKDICAL sciE.\ci:s. i 4S 

Gerbert d'Auvcrgne, who became pope under the title of Sylvester II., had 
in his parly life professed philosophy and practised medicine. 

It is no doubt true that the clerks who had taken monastic vows, or who 
had been ordained priests, abstained, as a rule, from practising surgery ; but 
they were often present at ihe serious operations effected by their lay 
assistants. In such cases they confined themselves to the part of consulting 
surgeons ; but though they abstained from dipping their hands in blood, they 
performed in certain urgent cases such simple operations as incisions and 
blood-lettings ; they treated dislocations and fractures of limbs, and dressed 
the wounds inflicted in battle. Leper hospitals had long since been esta- 
blished all over Europe. There was an almshouse open in every monastery, in 
every large church where canons lived in common under the conventual 
regime. There is reason for believing that several monasteries in the diocese 
of Mot/, and especially those of Padcrborn and Corbie, which were famous 
lor the philosophical and medical teaching imparted there to students from 
all lands, furnished their pupils with the means of putting their theory into 
practice in hospitals attached to the religious establishment. Here were 
1 rained the physicians and surgeons who travelled all over Europe without 
discarding their monastic attire, to fulfil their mission of charity by 
practising medicine and performing ordinary operations of surgery. It was 
from conventual hospitals, too, 'that were recruited the men and women who 
devoted themselves entirely to tending the sick. There were also a number 
of matrons and elderly women who belonged to a sort of corporation, which 
was specially employed upon obstetric medicine, at that time forbidden 
to men. 

The renown of the medical schools of Monte Casino and Salerno continued 
to increase. The Emperor Henry II. repaired to the monastery of Monte 
Casino to be treated for stone. Most of the sick who came three sought 
merely to touch the relics of St. Matthew, the patron saint of the convent, 
and those of other healing saints (Fig. 100) ; but they found there, to second 
the intercessions of these saints, the material attentions of a religious 
community which had made a serious study of medicine, and which possessed 
a hygienic code in accordance with the teaching of experience and of common 
sense. The touching of relics was, nevertheless, looked upon at this period 
as one of the most effective means of cure, and it is not to be wondered 
at that the Kings of England and of France, who had been anointed with the 


r+ 6 


holy oil at their consecration, should have believed that they had the power 
of healing, by the imposition of hands, various maladies, such as goitre, 
king's evil, white tumours, &c. 

The empirical method, which was current in the West during the 
eleventh century, was not the same as the philosophical medical treatment 
taught in the celebrated schools of the East, but in the practice of which 
there were many singular contradictions. The Arabic mode of treatment 
was, so to speak, speculative. Yet the illustrious Aviccnna (born at Chiraz, 
in Persia, about 980), whom his contemporaries surnamed the Prince of 

Fig. 101. A Leper House. Miniature from the "Miroir Historical " of Vincent de Beauvais. 
Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century. In the Arsenal Library, Paris. 

Doctors, was educated in the school of Bagdad ; and his immense reputation, 
which won him access to the courts of several Asiatic sovereigns, is a proof 
of the talent with which he practised his art. Amongst the numerous 
works in Arabic which he left behind him, that entitled the "Canon," a 
medical encyclopaedia, which testifies to the erudition and sagacity of the 
author, was translated into Latin, and served as a basis of teaching for six 
or seven centuries. The followers of Avicenna spread the doctrine of their 
master with great success, amongst them being Ilarun the Jew, who was 
one of the first interpreters of the " Canon " in Europe ; Mesue the younger. 


whose treatise on the Materia Mcdiea, disencumbered of the subtleties of the 
Anil> school, contains ingenious deductions drawn from the external aspect nt' 
eaeh plant ; Ishak ben Soliman, who collected some very sensible observations 
upon dietetics ; and Serapion the younger, a Greek doctor, whose writings 
embodied, some entirely novel suggestions as to the use of medicaments. 
Moreover, the Arabic system of medicine, in passing from the schools of 
the East to the. school of Cordova, underwent many changes. Thus the 
Spaniard, Albucasis, who was at once an anatomist and physiologist, did 
not implicitly accept the often contradictory authority of Galen and 
Avicenna. He laid down as a principle that medicine and surgery should 
lend each other mutual assistance, and he invented surgical instruments of a 
most formidable kind. These instruments were of iron ; for, in opposition 
to the prejudices of the age, according to which every metal had sonic- 
special property analogous to the- different operations in surgery, he main- 
tained that iron only ought to be employed. He therefore attacked the 
disease with fire and iron, resorting to cauterization with a degree of bold- 
ness which was often successful, and practising the difficult operation of 
bronchotomy, or incision of the windpipe, which modern science again 
resorts to in certain eases of croup. 

The numerous hospitals founded during the eleventh century were 
rendered all the more indispensable on account of the Crusades ; and monks, 
hospitallers, and hermits created upon the routes leading to the Holy Land 
fresh refuges for pilgrims in distress. The Johannists and the brotherhoods 
of St. Mary and St. Lazarus devoted themselves to the mission of charity 
in the East ; in France there were the brothers of St. Antony and of the 
Holy Ghost; and throughout the civilised world the heroic chevaliers of 
St. John of Jerusalem, or the Templars, whose countless establishments 
combined the triple character of conventual church, almshouse, and fortress, 
and who, attired in a dress both military and monastic, wore a mantle 
similar to that seen in the statues of J^sculapius, as a sign of the double 
mission, beneficent and warlike, which they had sworn to fulfil, at the risk 
of their lives, in the hospitals and upon the field of battle. 

l-'.iieh of these religious congregations gave itself over, either by its 
origin or by the character of its rules, to the treatment of certain special 
(lis.-as.-s. The Order of St. Antony, for instance, treated the terrible inflam- 
mations of the bowels and the dysenteries known under the ^enerie name of 



St. Antony's fire ; the Johannists and the brothers of the Order of the Holy 
Ghost devoted themselves to the cure of the great epidemics of pestilence 
so frequent at this period ; the Lazarists possessed sovereign remedies against 
leprosy, small-pox, pustular fever, &c. ; the Templars tended more parti- 
cularly the pilgrims, travellers, and soldiers afflicted with ophthalmia, scurvy, 
severe wounds, and dangerous sores. The Hospitallers were assisted by 
various corporations of women, and, at a time when regular doctors were so 

Fig. 102. A Ward in the Hotel-Dieu, Paris. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving of the Sixteenth 
Century, in the Frontispiece of a Manuscript Register, entitled, "Pardon, Grace, and Privi- 
leges granted by the Archbishop Patriarch of Bourges and Primate of Aquitaine, to the 
Benefactors of the Hostel-Dieu, Paris." In the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

scarce, they were very useful as substitutes. Hildegarde, Abbess of Ruperts- 
berg, who was more than eighty years of age at her death (1180), organized 
a school of nurses who rendered great service in the hospitals. Abelard, 
in his letters to the nuns of the Paraclete Convent, urged them to learn 
surgery for the benefit of the poor. In most of 'the great religious commu- 
nities there were public rooms for bathing, dressing the wounds of, bleeding, 
and cupping the indigent sick (Fig. 102). In Italy the Bishop of Salerno 
and the Abbot of Pescara devoted themselves to the material relief of human 


suffering. The learned have often sought to discover whether in the Middle 
Ages there existed such a thing as military surgery properly so called. It 
is true that no allusion is made to it in history until the fourteenth century, 
but in the most ancient chronicles mention is continually being made of 
some monk or clerk as accompanying the army ; and it may be assumed 
that he was a mire, or physician, or barber, according to the terms then used, 
whose duty it was to tend the wounded and care for the sick. It is 
impossible, in fact, to suppose any warlike expedition taking place without 
some one more or less skilled in surgery forming part of it ; and it is easy 
to understand that the first military surgeons were ecclesiastics, as the 
Church had a virtual monopoly of the science of medicine. In course of time 
the urban and municipal associations, which had obtained from the feudal 
lord their communal rights, sought to free themselves from the vassalage 
imposed by the Church. This was how the barbers were promoted to the 
rank of subordinate surgeons, arid 'in every town of any importance a certain 
number of men were paid a fixed salary, and undertook, in return, to attend 
the poor, and follow to the wars the man whom the commune had to furnish 
at the bidding of the lord of the soil. In many foreign countries, such as 
Holland, Italy, and Germany, even more than in France, the populous and 
wealthy towns engaged in the public service, and at a comparatively small 
cost, one or more surgeons, nearly all of whom had been educated in the 
monastic schools, and who were, therefore, well fitted for what were then 
called works of mercy. Of these was Hugh of Lucca, who, appointed 
physician at Parma, received but a lump sum of six hundred livres for his 
services as long as he lived. This was the origin of the Stadts Phi/sikits in 
Germany, and of the salaried surgeons and physicians in France, who, after 
having been for two centuries the rivals of the monks in medicine, were 
at last enabled to practise without let or hindrance, and to form civil 
corporations, to which the Crown granted certain privileges and statutes. 

From the reign of Alexis I. (1081) the Emperors of the East accorded 
their protection to the literary and scientific studies which flourished in their 
empire far more than they did in the West. Though they had no particular 
fondness for medical sciences, the latter were held in high esteem at Bagdad 
and Constantinople ; but the philosophical character of the art was disfigured 
by the shameless devices of astrology and quackery. During the reign of 
Manuel Conmenus, from 1143 to 1180, Conrad II., Emperor of Germany, 


having been wounded in the Crusade, and not having in his army a surgeon 
. able to cure him, was obliged to put himself under the care of the Greek 
doctors at Byzantium, and he doubtless acted under the advice of the 
Emperor Manuel, who prided himself upon his knowledge of medicine and 
surgery. It was the Emperor Manuel who afterwards dressed with his own 
hands the wounds of Baldwin II., King of Jerusalem ; and he was noted for 
his adroitness in bleeding, and for his discovery of potions and ointments 
which had the reputation of being very beneficial. Unfortunately the 
superstitious ideas of his time made him the blind slave of astrology. 

At about the same period the schools of the Iberian peninsula produced 

Fig. 104. Counter-Seal 
Fig. 103. Seal of the Faculty of Medicine, of the Faculty of Medicine, Paris 

Paris (Fourteenth Century). (Fourteenth Century). 

From the Collection of Seals in the National Archives, Paris. 

three men of genius : Ebn-Beithar, a doctor and naturalist, most of whose 
works have been lost ; Abenzoar, who, with no other guide than observation 
and method, practised medicine, surgery, and pharmacy with the greatest 
success, and whose " Taisyr," a vast compendium of contemporary science, 
translated into Latin, long enjoyed a well-merited reputation ; and, lastly, 
the famous Aver roes, who, at Cordova, publicly taught philosophy, juris- 
prudence, and medicine with such boldness and independence that he was 
obliged to fly from Spain to Morocco, where, notwithstanding some further 
proceedings, he was able to compose a remarkable commentary upon the 
writings of Aristotle (1217) The Jewish and Mahometan schools of Cordova 


' " ^ * ~ r -i"r r 


;uul Granada wore NO famous in the regenerated world of arts and sciences 
that the neighbouring nations also created schools which attempted to rival 
them. Thus as early as the twelfth century the schools of medicine at 
Montpellier and Paris (Figs. 103 and 104) acquired a certain celebrity, just 
as in Italy, a little later, the schools of Bologna, Modena, Fcrrara, Milan, 
Naples, Parma, Padua, and Pa via became famous. The quickening sap of 
university teaching began to flow through the veins of every European 

The Papal bulls ordering the establishment of the Faculties at Montpellier, 
Salerno, and Paris settled the discipline to be observed by the students and 
the hierarchy amongst the masters by the creation of new degrees and 
dignities. But though to study medicine or surgery in the Universities of 
Italy and Sicily it was still necessary to be a clerk that is to say, an eccle- 
siastic and tonsured this rule soon fell into disuse at the schools of Mont- 
pellier and Paris. Nevertheless, to obtain the rank of Mnnd-r Phyxician or 
Doctor at the Faculty of Montpellier, the candidate must be a clerk, and must 
have undergone an examination before masters or doctors selected from the 
staff of the college by the Bishop of Maguelonne ; to obtain the degree of 
Surgeon a similar though less 'difficult examination was required, but the 
candidate 1 need not be a clerk. The barbers, who did not quit the faculties of 
medicine, and who merely practised minor surgery, had not to pass any 
examination, except that which the masters of their corporation made them 
undergo at the hands of members of their profession. 

In the kingdom of Naples any one desiring to practise as a doctor had to 
undergo five years of medical study and two examinations for his license and 
doctorate before masters of the school of Salerno, and then to spend a year 
upon trial. The surgeon, before entering upon his functions, also had to 
follow a special course of study for a twelvemonth, so as to become familiar 
" with the anatomy of the human body, without which it is impossible to 
undertake an operation in safety, or follow up the cure of the sick person 
after the instrument has been employed." 

For some time the medical school of Bologna was the first in the world. 
It owed its acknowledged superiority to Jacopo Bertinozzo, to Hugo and 
Theodoric of Lucca, and, above all, to William Salicetti, born in 1200, not 
less skilful as a surgeon than as a physician, who operated both in the camps, 
the hospitals, and in many large towns, such as Bergamo, Venice, and Paviu, 


which latter city employed an experienced practitioner, who was paid out of 
the municipal funds. The principal objection urged against Salicetti was 
that for healing sores he resorted too much to cauterization and the knife, 
instead of applying toxical and medicinal remedies. He was, however, the 
teacher of Lanfranc, who always respectfully spoke of him as " my master of 
honoured memory." Compelled to quit his country for political reasons, this 
celebrated Milanese professor fled into France, and was invited to Paris by 
his compatriot, Passavant, Dean of the Faculty, and by Pitard, surgeon-in- 
chief to King Philippe le Bel. After performing several difficult operations of 
surgery, which won him great renown, he opened a school, which was very 
numerously attended. It may be said that his teaching brought about a 
complete reform in French surgery, and his two works, " Chirurgia Magna " 
and " Chirurgia Parva," became the manual of practical science ; for, before 
his time, this branch of the art, in the hands of ignorant barbers, both in 
France, Spain, and Germany, was almost crushed beneath the yoke of 
medical omnipotence. Thus all surgeons, male and female (for many women 
insisted on being attended by their own sex in certain cases), were compelled 
to give an undertaking that they would limit their labours to handiwork ; that 
they would not give any consultation or administer any internal remedy 
without the advice or the permission of a physician. The surgeon was free 
to operate as he pleased, but he could not give an opinion or write a prescrip- 
tion. Moreover, in verv grave cases, important operations were not left to the 
decision of the patient, or even to that of the practitioner, however eminent he 
might be. The permission either of the bishop or of the feudal lord was 
necessary, and the operation was invariably preceded by a solemn consultation 
in presence of the friends and relatives of the patient. These exaggerated 
precautions are all the more surprising, for while the civil and religious 
authorities seemed to be so particular with regard to operations performed by 
eminent surgeons, they scarcely interfered at all with the minor operations 
performed by barbers or hospital nurses. Moreover, the leading surgeons 
would have considered it beneath their dignity to perform in unimportant 
cases. At the end of the thirteenth century they did not condescend to 
operate themselves in cases of puncture for dropsy, of stone, of hernia, or of 
cataract, and they even disregarded the study of internal diseases as unworthy 
of their profession. 

The genius of Lanfranc was instrumental in bringing about a better 



slate of things. He says, in one of his books, "The outside public bclii-\. ; 
it impossible for a man to be proficient both in medicine and surgery. But 
a good physician must know something of surgery, and a good surgeon cannot 
afford to be ignorant of medicine ; it is, therefore, necessary for a medical 
man to have some knowledge of both these sciences." Under the influence of 

Fig. 105. Doctor Death. Miniature from a " Book of Hours " of the Sixteenth Century. In the 
Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

t lirsi> sensible ideas, surgical science rose in the Paris Faculty to the level of the 
highest literary teaching, and was as well taught as in the best medical schools 
of Italy and Spain, to which French parents no longer thought it necessary to 
send their children. The Faculty of Paris was considered to be equal to all 
requirements, and it was only a few young surgeons who came for some 



weeks to Bologna, where the great anatomist Mundinus and his successor, 
Bertreccius, practised dissection before an attentive assemblage of practitioners 
from all parts of Europe (Fig. 105). 

Another set of professors belonging to the Jewish race, less brilliant and 
more narrow in their teaching than those attached to the schools of Paris and 
Montpellier, also enjoyed a certain celebrity in towns where the fanaticism of 
the people against the Jews had been quelled by the authorities. From the 
Carlovingian times, Metz, Mayence, Strasburg, Frankfort, Troyes, and 
Avignon had maintained chairs, from which the rabbis, who were looked 
upon by the Jews not merely as ministers of religion, but as the best advisers 
on earthly matters as well, taught, after the glossology of cabalism and the 
Scriptures as commentated by the Talmudists, the Hebrew language, philo- 
sophy, moral philosophy, hygiene, and medicine. 

From the time that Lanfranc founded the St. Cosmo College at Paris, 
surgery disencumbered itself more and more from its original barbarism. 
In 1311 Philippe le Bel enacted that all surgeons in the kingdom should pass 
an examination before the new surgical college, the members of which, 
honoured with the confidence of the King and his ministers, caused great 
umbrage to the Faculty of Medicine. This was the beginning of the long 
struggle between the long-robed and the short-robed doctors (Fig. 106). 
The faculty would not confer its degree of Bachelor upon students until 
they swore never to practise surgery, and continued to exact from them 
the oath of perpetual celibacy. The faculty also obtained from King John 
(1352) a decree prohibiting any one who was not an apothecary, student, or 
mendicant monk from practising medicine. These measures were taken with 
a view of protecting the honours of the profession, but they proved far less 
effectual than the labours of Guy de Chauliac (1363), author of the " Grande 
Chirurgie," who, in his double capacity of physician and surgeon, raised the 
reputation of the medical body to a very high pitch. 

Upon the other hand, the affiliation of Charles V. to the brotherhood of 
St. Cosmo increased the pride of the surgeons, who were so injudicious as to 
exhibit towards the barbers as much intolerance and contempt as the physi- 
cians had shown towards themselves. The master barbers, "hampered in 
their calling" by the surgeons, appealed to the King, who received their 
appeal very favourably, and exempted them from doing duty as watchmen, 
upon the ground, as the royal decree put it, that " the barbers being nearly 



all of them in the habit of practising surgery, great inconvenience might 
arise if they were absent from their houses when sent for during the 

The surgeons, who continued to encroach upon the domain of the 
physicians, but who were none the less jealous of their own privileges, 
subjected the barbers to so many vexations that the authorities, tired of 
being continually appealed to in order to settle some dispute between the two 
corporations, formally defined the respective rights of both parties. The 

Fig. 106. The Physic-inn. Designed and engraved in the Sixteenth Century by J. Amman. 

decree of October 3rd, 1372, empowered the barbers " to apply plasters, oint- 
ments, and other appropriate medicines for bruises, apostemes, and other open 
wounds, not of a character likely to cause death, because physicians are men 
of great estate and very expensive, whom the poor are not able to pay." 
From this period, then, there were three distinct classes of persons exercising 
medicine in its different stages : the long-robed practitioners, mirn or 
lilii/xirinitx, representing the Faculty of Paris ; the short-robed surgeons, who 
formed a corporation under the patronage of St. Cosmo and St. Damianus ; 
and the barbers, entitled to carry a sword, who formed a business corporation, 


and, to use the technical expression of the time, filled the " office de barberie, 
sans conteste." 

This rule applied to all France, except to the provinces of Burgundy and 
Lorraine, in which there were the great barbers and the litt/e barbers. The 
latter, who were mere adventurers, travelled on foot, with their small wallet 
and light purse, from village to village, to sell their antidotes and drugs, 
while the great barber, sworn surgeon, called upon his patients, attired in a 
long robe trimmed with fur, and bestriding a hackney, the tinkling of whose 
bells announced his arrival a long way off. This master surgeon, often 
accompanied by an assistant and several servants, carried in his case five or 
six kinds of instruments ; to wit, scissors, nippers, a sort of probe called 
tprouvette, razors, lances, and needles. He also had five sorts of ointment, 
which were at that time looked upon as indispensable : the basilicon, which 
was considered a maturative remedy ; the apostles' ointment, for quickening 
the vitality of bad flesh ; the white ointment, for consolidating the flesh; the 
yellow ointment, for stimulating the growth of proud flesh ; and the dialtcea 
ointment, for subduing local pain. The great barbers did even more than this, 
and Guy de Chauliac says, " I never went out on my visits without taking 
with me several clysters and plain remedies, and I gathered herbs in the 
fields, so as to treat diseases in a proper manner, winning thereby honour, 
profit, and many friends." 

Guy de Chauliac, who was appointed physician to three popes at Avignon, 
Clement VI., Innocent VI., and Urban V., was, moreover, very particular as 
to the conditions under which a surgeon should be allowed to practise. He 
insisted that a surgeon should be " well educated, clever, and of good morality ; 
bold when he saw his way clear, prudent in doubtful cases, kind to his 
patients, gracious towards his colleagues, modest in giving an opinion, chaste, 
sober, pitiful, and merciful ; not greedy of gain, but receiving a modest 
remuneration, according to his labour, the means of the patient, the result of 
the illness, and his own dignity." 

It was creditable to French surgery that such honourable sentiments 
should have been expressed at a time when in neighbouring countries, and 
notably in England, human credulity was being so scandalously imposed 
upon by the most ignorant of characters. For instance, an English surgeon 
called Goddesden had two sorts of prescriptions, one for the rich and another 
for the poor ; he sold at a high price to the barbers a so-called panacea, which 

MI-: DI CM. 


the latter sold again at a large profit, and this panacea was simply a mixture 
of frogs pounded up in a mortar ; he pompously advertised infallible and secret 
remedies, in which he placed so little 1 confidence that he took care to exact 
payment for them beforehand (Fig. 107). In one of his books there is a 

Fig. 107. Interior of a Doctor's House. Fiic-simile of a Miniature from the ''Epistre deOthea," 
by Christine de Pisau. Manuscript of tho Fifteenth Century. In the Burgundy Library, 

short chapter upon dixnijrceaUe diseases, as he terms them, which work their 
own cure, and, therefore, bring no grist to the. doctor's mill. 

Several great epidemics, the terrible effects of which are alluded to by 
Guy de Chauliac and his contemporary Petrarch, had caused great consterna- 
tion throughout Europe, and gave rise to the idea of establishing a medical 



police for all countries. The idea was a happy one, but, carried into execu- 
tion under the joint supervision of the ecclesiastical, the municipal, and the 
University authorities, the scheme was imbued with the prejudices of that 
time. Thus lepers continued to be kept in a state of isolation as in the 
twelfth century, and the ceremonies by which they were deprived of their 
rights as citizens were maintained. The well-known black plague, one of the 
greatest scourges that ever devastated the world, and which originated in the 
Asian marshes in 1348, after a long succession of earthquakes and heavy rain, 
ravaged Italy and France, spreading from thence to Germany, England, 
and Holland. The country districts were depopulated and converted into 
deserts. In the towns this plague raged with such intensity that Venice lost 

Fig. 108. Banner of the Apothecaries of 
St. Lo. Symbolic Arms of the 

Fig. 109. Banner of the Apothecaries of 
Caen. Symbolic Arms of the Cor- 

a hundred, and Strasburg fifty thousand inhabitants. In many localities nine- 
tenths of the population perished in a few months. The best medical advice 
was powerless against an atmospheric poisoning, the effects of which often 
proved fatal in the space of an hour, and the municipal authorities thought to 
arrest it by large fires which were lighted at the cross roads and in the squares 
of the towns. The Church, by order of Clement VI., pope at Avignon, 
endeavoured, as at the period of the plague which ravaged Italy and decimated 
the population of Rome in 1254, when Innocent IV. was pope (Fig. 110), to 
inspire the people with courage, by means of processions, sermons, and public 
prayers. The Holy See granted plenary indulgence to all those who, by tend- 
ing the sick, exposed themselves to almost certain death. Few medical men 



were found to face the danger, and the priests alone ventured to approach the 
dying, and offered them the last consolations of religion. 

Public sanitary measures do not date, however, from this period of 
general calamity, but from a somewhat later epoch, when the outbreak of 
various local epidemics caused great apprehension as to the return of the 
black plague. The closing of houses, streets, and even quarters in towns 
where the disease had raged, the drawing of a sanitary cordon round the 

Fig. 110. Portrait of Innocent IV., elected Pope in 1243. Fresco Painting upon Gold Ground, 

in the Basilica of St. Paul, Rome. 

places infected, and, what was still more important, the scientific investiga- 
tion of the causes of the disease, the cleansing of the sewers and the streets, 
the purifying of the drinking water, the transfer of the needy sick to some 
place outside the walls, and the practice of burying the victims of epidemic 
in quicklime, testify to the prudent precautions of the administration. The 
paving of streets, which had been abandoned, or at all events much 
neglected, since the fall of the Roman empire, was one of the logical 
consequences of this system of general salubrity (Fig. 111). At this period, 


too, the use of mineral waters again became general, and the doctors 
'recommended to the sick, and especially to those just recovering from an 
illness, the ancient sources of Neris, Vichy, Plombieres, Aix-la-Chapelle, 
&c., which would have had still more visitors if the roads had heen better, 
and a residence at these thermal stations more secure. Many localities, 
formerly celebrated for the cure of chronic diseases, became places of 
pilgrimage ; and though these pilgrimages retained their religious character, 
they were approved of and encouraged by the doctors. 

It is mortifying to find that in the principal towns of France, Germany, 
and .Italy the authorities made no effort to arrest the superstitious ideas 
which prevailed. From time to time the Jews, the lepers, the insane, and 
the imbecile were accused of poisoning the fountains, the wells, the rivers, 
and. even the air, and they were seized and cast into prison, and often put 
to death. Sometimes, it is true, these iniquitous acts were attributable to 
the blind fury of the populace, determined to take what they believed to be 
justice into their own hands ; but in some cases the urban administration 
took part in the massacre, and became responsible for it, as when the council 
of the city of Metz ordered the punishment of several lepers, "who were 
executed -for their un worthiness." Moreover, in times of epidemic, the 
population invariably demanded the extermination of the lepers and the 

In the meanwhile the rivalry was going on at Paris between the surgeons 
and the barbers. The former, having exhausted in vain all their efforts to 
put down the pretensions of the barbers, addressed, in 1390, the following 
petition to the University : " "We, your humble scholars and disciples, 
appeal to your venerable authority, to the masters of the Faculty of Medi- 
cine" (Fig. 112). The physicians, appeased by this indirect act of submis- 
sion, promised the surgeons to lend them their support so far as they 
remained "true scholars." But whether because the doctors of the faculty 
changed their minds, or because the Crown interfered in the interests of the 
public, even at the expense of a privileged body, Charles V. did not take 
part with the surgeons, and by his silence confirmed the professional inde- 
pendence of the master barbers. The surgeons thereupon adopted a better 
and more dignified way of asserting their superiority. " Henceforth," they 
declared in their new statutes, " every apprentice shall be able to speak and 
write good Latin ; moreover, he shall be of comely appearance and free 



from all deformity: no master shall receive an apprentice who does not 
bring letters of recommendation from his former master, and the degree 

Fig. 111. Shops in an Apothecary's Street: Barber, Furrier, and Tailor. Miniature from the 
"Regime des Princes." Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. A reenal Library, Paris. 

of Bachelor, without previous examination, shall cost two gold crowns, 


instead of a franc." These precautions were evidently taken in order that 
access to the professorships of St. Cosmo might be limited to students who, 
by their learning and application to work, would be capable of sustaining 
the aristocracy of the surgical body against the invading democracy of the 
barbers. There was, moreover, very ample room for choice, as the College 
of St. Cosmo comprised only ten sworn surgeons. The number of barbers, 
upon the other hand, steadily increased, and from forty, in the middle of the 
fourteenth century, it had risen to sixty at the close. The degree of esteem 
in which each of the three classes of medical men was held may be gathered 
from the characteristic fact that when the Paris Faculty appointed physi- 
cians, surgeons, and barbers to attend the plague-stricken, it allotted a 
salary of two hundred pounds-Paris to the first, of one hundred and twenty 
to the second, and of eighty only to the third. 

By the fifteenth century the Arab school of medicine had lost ground, and 
the sound doctrines of Hippocrates resumed their sway, owing to the succes- 
sive checks inflicted upon the doctrines of Avicenna, Averroes, and Galen, 
which fell into disfavour. These latter would have been still more discredited 
if to the father of medicine had not been attributed the authorship of a mass 
of works which he never wrote, and if the theosophical ravings of judicial 
astrology had not taken the place of observation and method. The illus- 
trious Marsilio Ficino of Florence, who was one of the oracles of his day, 
himself retarded the progress of true science by upholding with the passionate 
ardour of a Platonist the tenets of a science which was false and misleading. 

It is not astonishing, therefore, that medicine should have been subor- 
dinated to the occult sciences, especially to astrology. These imaginary 
sciences opened to inquisitive and restless minds horizons peopled with all 
kinds of illusions ; with them dreams occupied the place of facts, and each 
individual was supposed to hold a special rank in the universal harmonic 
system. The destiny of a country or a city, like that of an individual, 
was dependent upon the motion of such and such a planet. An epidemic 
was caused by the conjunction of different stars, and as the inherent 
principle of every illness was in the constellation beneath which the sufferer 
was born, the doctor's first duty was to seek out the constellation, so as to 
get a basis for his prognosis. The constellation once discovered, the most 
remarkable conjectures were drawn from its position and sidereal influences. 
Hooping-cough observed for the first time as an epidemic in 1414 and plica, 



or scurvy of the head, which extended from Poland into Bohemia and Austria, 
puzzled the sagacity of the astrologers, who sought for the explanation of 
terrestrial phenomena in signs from above. 

While in medicine astrological imposture was invading the domain of 
practical observation, Italian surgery, compromised by a mass of charlatans, 
was not nearly so far advanced as French surgery (Fig. 113). Germany, not 

Fig. 112. Beadles of the Three Faculties of Theology, Jurisprudence, and Medicine at the 
University of Pont-a-Mousson. From the "Funeral of Charles III., Duke of Lorraine" 
(1608), Copper Plate engraved by F. Brentel, after Claude de la Ruelle. In the Library of 
M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

less backward in medical science, manifested an equal degree of contempt for 
bath-keepers, shepherds, and barbers, all of whom were prevented from form- 
ing corporations, or marrying into any family not engaged in their trade. 
Surgical art was at an even lower ebb in Germany than it was in Italy, as a 
proof of which it may be mentioned that Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, 
in order to be cured of an old wound, was obliged to convoke all the barbers 

,6 4 


of the Holy Empire, and promise them rich rewards if they would come to his 
court. Hans Dockenburg, an Alsatian barber, restored him to health (1468) ; 
but there is nothing to show that this accidental cure, effected no doubt by 
empirical means, in any way increased the reputation of the German barber- 
surgeons (Fig. 114). * 

There was an equal scarcity of able practitioners and learned professors 
in England, where the surgeons were merely manufacturers and vendors of 
plasters and ointments. When Henry V. invaded France in 1415, the only 

Fig. 113. An Operator. Designed and engraved in the Sixteenth Century by J. Amman. 

surgeon he had in his camp was Thomas Morstede, who was with difficulty 
induced to accompany the army, bringing with him twelve assistants. In a 
second expedition, undertaken by the same prince, the corporation of London 
surgeons could not supply as many even as twelve volunteers, and the King 
was compelled to authorise Thomas Morstede to press into his service as many 
surgeons as the army required, and as many artisans as would be necessary 
for making and repairing surgical instruments. The best operators were to 
be found in France, and the celebrated Balescone of Florence professed and 
practised surgery at the school of Montpellier. 



After thirty years of apparent concord between the surgeons and barbers 
of Paris, the quarrel broke out afresh. Upon the 14th of May, 1423, the 
surgeons obtained from the provost of the city an order " forbidding generally 
all persons, of whatsoever estate or condition, who are not surgeons, even of 
barbers, from exercising or practising surgery." This order was proclaimed, 
to the sound of the trumpet, at all the street-corners ; but the barbers appealed 
to the provost, who, upon the 4th of November, 1424, withdrew his own 
decree. The surgeons, having appealed, but in vain, to the Parliament, 
resolved not to visit any patient who had been attended by a barber. But 

Fig. 114. A German Surgeon. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving, attributed to Holbein, and 
taken from the German Translation of the " Consolation of Philosophy," by Boethiua, 
Augsburg Edition, 1537, in folio. 

the barbers shortly after this obtained formal recognition of the rights which 
they had been so long insisting upon, for Colonet Candillon, first barber and 
valet of the chamber to a regent and two kings of France, was invested with 
the title of maistrc et garde du mcstier, with the right of delegating his 
authority in the principal towns of the kingdom to lieutenants, who were to 
have the exclusive right of inspection over all the barbers. The latter formed 
at this period a numerous association, to become a master of which it was 
necessary to pass an examination before a jury appointed by one of the 


lieutenants of the chief barber. Each new master barber obtained " a letter 
sealed with seals " from the chief of the corporation, in exchange for a sum 
of five sous, and he also paid two sous six deniers for a copy of the annual 
almanac, in which were recorded the days of the year favourable for bleeding 
or the reverse. 

The St. Cosmo surgeons, not caring to carry on the struggle against the 
barbers, especially after one of them, Oliver le Daim, had become the favourite 
of Louis XI., sought to obtain the title of students of the University of Paris, 
together with the privileges, franchises, liberties, and exemptions attaching 
thereto. The University granted their request, but upon condition of their 
following the lectures of the doctor- regents of the Faculty of Medicine. 
Thus the surgeons were once more placed beneath the sway of the physicians, 
while the barbers, unrestricted in the exercise of their profession, obtained 
one of the sixty banners distributed by Louis XI. to the corporations of arts 
and trades of the capital (Figs. 115 to 120). Nor was this all. The surgeons, 
forgetting that the speciality of their art was manual work, abandoned to the 
barbers cases of incision, dislocation, and fracture, confining themselves to 
writing prescriptions or recipes, which, according to the University statutes, 
appertained to the masters of the faculty, and not to the surgeons. 

Ttiis constituted the final triumph of the plebeian over the aristocratic 
surgeons, and henceforth the barbers formed the most active and useful 
section of the surgical body. They were to be met with, the lance or bistouri 
in their hands, not only, in times of peace, in towns and villages, but, in time 
of war, in the wake of armies and with expeditions to distant lands. But for 
them there would have been no such thing as military surgery. The intes- 
tine quarrels of the doctors did not get beyond the faculties, and, notwith- 
standing their irreconcilable differences of opinions and systems, the science 
of medicine was implicitly confided in by the public both in France and Italy. 
Most of the doctors continued to be in the fifteenth, as they had been in the 
fourteenth century, superstitious worshippers of the Arabic astrology, and 
blind imitators of their ignorant and empirical predecessors. They attributed 
to the seasons, to the lunar periods, and to the hours of the day and the 
night a direct action upon the humours of the human body. The general 
belief was that the blood rose, during the daytime, towards the sun, and 
descended into the lower extremities at night ; that at the third hour the 
bile subsided, so that its acrid qualities might not be mixed with the course 


Fig. 115. Banner of the Corporation 
of Physicans at Amiens. 

Fig. 117. Banner of the Corporation 
of Physicians in the Hayenne. 

Fig. 1 19. Banner of the Corporation 
of Surgeons at Le Mans. 

Fig. 116. Banner of the Corporation 
of Physicians at Vire. 

Fig. 118. Banner of the Corporation 
of Surgeons at Caen. 

Fig. 120. Banner of the Corporation 
of Surgeons at Saintes. 

of the blood, and that at the second hour the atrabilis, and, in the evening, the 
phlegm, subsided. Proficiency in astrology implied proficiency in medicine 


at a time when Tarenta the Portuguese, Jacques de Forli, Cernisone of 
Parma, Mengo Biancheli of Faenza, and Bencio of Sienna, were still teach- 
ing Arabic scholasticism in the chairs of Montpellier, Pisa, Padua, Pa via, and 
Bologna. It was at Padua that the Professors Guainer, Bartholomew Mon- 
tagnana, and Michael Savonarola were the first to denounce the prejudices 
and ravings of astrological and cabalistic medicine. 

The mere list of medical works published from the discovery of printing 
to the close of the fifteenth century is sufficient proof that medical teaching 
was exclusively Arabic throughout Europe. The Latin translation of 
Avicenna was printed at Milan in 1473, at Padua in 1476, and at Strasburg 
somewhat earlier. The translation of Mesue had appeared at Venice in 1471, 
and was reprinted almost simultaneously in five or six other cities. But the 
works of Hippocrates did not see the light until 1526, and the original text 
of Dioscorides and Galen was not printed in France or Italy till the begin- 
ning of the sixteenth century. The treatise of Celsus alone met with any 
favour from the antagonists of Greek and Roman medicine. Upon the other 
hand, the leading professors resorted freely to the printing-press as a means 
of diffusing their own writings. 

The illustrious Antonio Benivieni, at the close of the sixteenth century, 
succeeded in substituting for the fanciful dreamings of the Arab school the 
pure doctrine of Hippocrates ; he commentated the books of the early 
authors, basing his themes upon the investigations of anatomy and even 
of pathological anatomy which he proclaimed to be the only rule of medical 
art ; and his labours were continued by his pupils, John of Vigo and 
Berengario of Carpi. The former published a work entitled " Practica in 
Arte Chirurgica Copiosa " (Rome, 1514, in folio), which went through twenty 
editions in thirty years, and was translated into French. His precepts 
were everywhere treated as oracular, but he comes down to posterity, unfor- 
tunately for his reputation, as the originator of the system of cauterizing 
wounds inflicted by firearms with boiling oil a barbarous practice which, 
believed to be effective for destroying the venom of the wounds, inflicted 
infinite torture upon thousands of patients for more than a century. 
Berengario raised the Bologna school from the discredit into which it had 
fallen, and his excellent treatise upon Fractures of the Skull entitled him to 
Ihe esteem of his learned successors. 

Germany was throughout the Middle Ages an easy prey to astrologers, 



wandering Jews, raw apothecaries, and all the other satellites of ignorance 
and superstition (Fig. 121). There were, however, several eminent men in 
some of the imperial towns, such as Strasburg, Frankfort, and Hamburg, 

Fig. 121. A Charlatan performing an Operation. Fac-simile of an Engraving by Wael 

(Seventeenth Century). 

and in the studious cities of Swit/crland. The plain barbers, in many ca-es, 
became very proficient, owing to the great experience they acquired. At 

the same time, Jerome I'.rimswich, Jean < iersdort', ami Hoe-elm obtained a 


1 7 o 


great reputation at Strasburg by their practical skill, and by their books, 
which latter were translated into Dutch and Italian. 

Up to the sixteenth century the medical science of the Middle Ages, 
dominated or absorbed by the Arabic school, was opposed to the renovating 
tendencies of the teaching body. Tradition, routine, and prejudice were too 
strong for them ; and a love of the supernatural, and vague aspirations after 

Fig. 122. Portrait of Claude of France, Daughter of Louis XII., Painted by Clouet (Sixteenth 
Century). In the Collection of M. Double, Paris. 

the unknown, retarded the general revolution, which advanced slowly but 
inevitably. At the dawn of the sixteenth century nothing was ready for a great 
scientific reform ; the medical art only subsisted, so to speak, amidst ruins, 
surrounded by scattered fragments and materials which had no architect, 
while the masons who were to be employed in erecting a new edifice had no 
sheds to work in. Everywhere doubt and credulity were paramount. 
Rabelais, with his sceptical laugh, was a living satire upon the degenerate 


and corrupted art in a society which was aspiring after a complete and 
thorough transformation. Sceptics of another kind were to be found in 
Henry Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim, who, while contending against 
certain philosophical errors, sought to substitute for them theurgy and 
magic ; or in Paracelsus, who, notwithstanding his splendid intellect, con- 
ceived it possible that a hybrid alliance might be formed bstween cabalistic 
mysticism upon the one hand, and medicine and occult sciences upon the 
other. The scientific faith by which his genius was inflamed was not shared 
by his contemporaries, Argentier, Rondelet, and Joubert, who were powerful 
to attack ancient theories, but feeble to raise new ones upon their ruins. 
Each man erected a system of his own, which, after exciting momentary 
attention, collapsed, and left not a vestige behind it. A few, however, had 
the good sense to content themselves with philological labours, with trans- 
lating, revising, and commentating the works of Hippocrates, Galen, and 
the masters of Greek and Roman medicine ; and amongst this select band 
may be mentioned Thomas Leonicenus, Gonthier d'Andernach, Fuchs, 
Jacques Houlier, and Louis Duret. 

The great doctors of that period, those who devoted themselves to their 
work from pure love of science, remained poor, and with difficulty made a 
living out of their profession. They did not practise medicine so much as 
study the malady and the patient. Moreover, as there was no tariff of 
doctor's fees, they sometimes received the most inadequate recompense for 
their labours. Paracelsus sued a canon of Bale, whom he had cured, for the 
stipulated fee of one hundred florins ; but the judge awarded him only six 
florins. When the patient was of a generous disposition, the doctor came off 
better ; and the best paid of all were those who attended upon the sovereign 
and the court. Honorat Picquet, physician to Louis XII., attended his 
daughter, Claude of France (Fig. 122), during a severe illness, which he 
was fortunate enough to cure, and Queen Anne of Brittany, her mother, 
rewarded him with a fee of three hundred crowns in gold. Frai^ois I., who 
afterwards became the husband of the Princess Claude, did not forget this 
almost miraculous cure, and when he founded the Royal College he created 
a chair of medicine, which was almost always filled by a Frenchman. 

Switzerland produced a whole series of learned physicians, who added 
numerous treatises to the long list of works on medicine. Conrad Gessner, 
Jacques Ruff, and Guillaume Fabrice conferred renown upon the schools of 

I 7 2 


Lausanne and Berne, while the Universities of Leipsic, Ingolstadt, and 
Wittemberg, awakening from their long slumbers, and taking the Italian 
schools as their models, recovered their ancient renown with anatomists and 
doctors such as Cannani, Cesalpino, Fallopio, and Eustachi. Wherever 
there were several doctors, they formed a homogeneous and compact body, 
solidly constituted, and jealous of their rights and privileges ; for though the 

Fig. 123. Andrew Vesalius. Wood Engraving, after the Design of J. de Calcar, Pupil of Titian. 
In the Library of M. Ambroiae Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

doctors quarrelled amongst themselves, they would not allow any one else to 
interfere with their prerogatives. 

While the Universities of Salamanca, Alcala, Henarez, Toledo, Valencia, 
and Coimbra regained, so to speak, the success which the Arabs and the Jews 
had accomplished during the Middle Ages, there arrived upon the medical 
stage of France, which is always in the van of progress as of revolution, 
the famous founder of anatomical science, Andrew Vesalius (Fig. 123), born 
at Brussels in 1514, Brissot, Fernel, Sylvius, and Ranchin. But the 



barber's art was almost simultaneously illustrated by Ambroise Pare, born at 
Laval in the beginning of the sixteenth century, who, occupying the most 
humble position upon his arrival in Paris, soon exchanged his rough barber's 
stall upon the Place St. Michel for the Louvre, and who, Huguenot as he was, 
was enabled, through the favour of several kings, to reform, or rather to 
create afresh, the art of surgery by associating it with medicine. 

Fig. 124. Banner of the Corporation of Apothecaries in the Mayenne. 


Diocletian burns the Books of Chemistry. Haroun Al-Raschid protects the Sacred Art. Geber, 
one of the first Chemists. Rhazes. Chemistry in honour amongst the Saracens. Avicenna, 
. Serapion, Mesue. Albucasis and Averroes. Morienus the Solitary. Albertus Magnus and 
Gerbert. Vincent of Beauvais. Raymond Lulli. The Lullists, or Dreamers. Arnauld do 
Villeneuve. Roger Bacon. Invention of Spectacles. Alchemy in the Fifteenth Century. 
J. B. Porta, the Italian. Origin of the Rosicrucians. Paracelsus. George Agricola. 
Conrad Gessner. Cornelius Agrippa. The Story of Nicholas Flamel. Alchemy engenders 

HEMISTRY, which in the first centuries 
of the Christian era had no practical 
application, consisted merely of a few 
vague and entirely speculative theories, 
and was confounded with physics, under 
the appellations of divine art, sacred art, 
and sacred science, in the incoherent mass 
of transcendental propositions which 
made up high philosophy. The word 
chemistry (from the Greek \rjfiifla, clujii/i/i 
in Latin), used for the first time by 
Suidas, a lexicographer of the tenth 

century, at first meant an alloy of gold and silver. Suidas mentions, in this 
connection, that the Emperor Diocletian, irritated by a revolt of the 
Egyptians against the laws of the empire, had all their books of chemistry 
committed to the flames, so as to punish them for their rebellion by pre- 
venting them from carrying on the lucrative business arising out of the 
melting and working of precious metals (Fig. 125). In another part of his 
Lexicon he states that the Golden Fleece, which the Argonauts went in search 
of, was but the ancient papyrus in which was contained the secret for making 

Without attaching overmuch importance to these dim traditions, they 



are worth recording, because they seem to be the starting-point of chemistry 
in ancient times. It may be added that a manuscript work of Zosimus, a 
Greek historian of the fifth century, mentions the Xr)^a, an apocryphal work, 
in which the giants, sons of the children of God (the descendants of Seth), 
who are represented in the Book of Genesis as intermarrying with daughters 
of the race of Cain, registered their discoveries in the arts and the extent of 

Fig. 125. The Gallic Vulcan. After a Celtic Monument discovered beneath the Choir of Notre- 
Dame, Paris, in 1711, and now preserved in the Cluny Museum. 

their scientific knowledge. According to Scaliger, it was from the " Chema " 
that the mother science derived its name of chemistry. 

It is misleading, however, to quote, as has been done, the evidence of a 
Greek romance, the " History of Theagcnes," composed in the sixteenth century, 
though it has been ascribed to Athenagoras, who is said to have written it 
about 176 A.D. The chemical operations described in this apocryphal novel 
merely serve to show that, in the first century of the Christian era, the 

I 7 6 


Greeks were acquainted with the hermetic science, the origin of which has 
been traced back to the mythical Hermes (Fig. 126), and which was after- 
wards termed alchemy (by the adjunction of the Arabic article al to the Greek 
word x?7ju.a) , when the sacred art, the art of the philosophers of the school 
of Alexandria, transformed under the influence of Mahometan civilisation, 
began to spread throughout the ancient world. 

The Bagdad academy, founded by the Caliph Al-Mansour, rivalled in 
lustre with the Christian school of Dschindisabour. The Caliphs Haroun Al- 
Raschid, Al-Mamoun, and Motawakkel gave a great impetus during the ninth 

Fig. 126. The Alchemist Hermes. After an Engraving by Vriese. 

century to the sciences of observation, to the experimental methods, and con- 
sequently to physics and chemistry. In a few instances men of superior 
intelligence shook themselves free of the purely theosophical views which had 
too long influenced, to the exclusion of all others, the Eastern philosophers, 
and sought in chemistry for something higher than the chimerical transmuta- 
tion of metals. 

Two men of great scientific repute appeared in the East early in the 
dghth century : these were Al-Chindus, who, by a series of ingenious 
experiments, was one of the first to discover the secrets of .nature, and the 


celebrated (iebcr (Fig. 127), or Ycber, a native of Mesopotamia, who dis- 
covered and analyzed red oxide and the deutochlorure of mercury (corrosive 
sublimate), nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, nitrate of silver, &c. Al-Chindus 
^avc special attention to the arts of magic; but Geber, whose works, 
translated into Latin, are still extant, notably the "Summa Perfcctionis " and 
the "Liber Philosophorum," laid down the true principles of chemistry, in 
his researches on the fusion, the purifying, and the malleability of metals. 
After this great chemist, whom Roger Bacon calls the Master of Masters, and 
who deserved to be the oracle of chemists in the Middle Ages, we must 
come down to the beginning of the ninth century for the next work of 
importance on chemistry, which was the book of the great Arab doctor, 
Razi, or Rhazes. This encyclopaedia mentions for the first time, as belonging 
to the materia medica, orpiinent, realgar (a compound of arsenic and 
sulphur), borax, and certain mixtures of sulphur with iron and copper, of 
mercury with acids, and of arsenic with various substances hitherto unknown, 
or at all events not used. It is with no little surprise that we read of 
Rhazes recommending to doctors the use of various alcoholic preparations and 
animal oils, such as oil of ants, which modern chemists claim as remedies of 
their own invention. "The secret art of chemistry," says Rhazcs, who 
wrote a treatise on this science which has become extinct, " is nearer possible 
than impossible ; the mysteries do not reveal themselves except by force of 
labour and perseverance. But what a triumph it is when man can raise a 
corner of the veil which conceals the works of God ! " 

The learned 'M. Emile Begin, whose writings on chemistry furnish us 
with material for this chapter, states that, from the Middle Ages downwards, 
the science of chemistry has been guided by experimental analysis. He says, 
"From Schal, the model experimentalist, to Galen, how many important 
discoveries, original and fertile ideas, and valuable applications have issued 
from the chemist's crucible ! How many lives have been spent over it ! 
How many laborious minds have investigated the mysterious relations 
established between organic and organized matter, and the internal combina- 
tions of mat tor with itself! The truth, it must be added, has been blurred 
with many superstitious beliefs and wild fancies." At this remote epoch 
nearly every savant was more or less of a dreamer. Almost as a matter of 
eour-e, Klia/es's jjreat work, translated into Latin, with the title of "ElHhawi," 
a vast pharmaceutical repertory completed by a man of genius who looked at 

A A 


science from the healing point of view, was not, from its very character, 
calculated to give us a complete idea of the chemical knowledge appertaining 
to the epoch at which he wrote it. We can merely guess that this knowledge 
was in a pretty advanced stage ; but the applications of chemistry to 
metallurgy, to docimacy, to the arts of luxury, and to various kinds of 
industries, such as the melting of metals, the fabric of warlike weapons, 
the decoration of edifices and furniture, &c., all are buried in the tomb of 
so many generations of artists who have left no other trace of their existence 
than a few of their productions. We can learn less from history in this 
respect than from an attentive study of the museums of Spain and Sicily, in 

Fig. 127. The Alchemist Geber. After an Engraving by Vriese. 

which are preserved many art monuments which testify to the marvellous 
skill of the Saracens and the Moors. 

The "Canon " by Avicenna, the works of Serapion the younger, and of Mesue 
(see the chapter on Medical Sciences), contain, however, some interesting 
details as to chemical operations, which show that there was gradual progress, 
and every now and then a discovery of importance. Mesue says that in the 
middle of the ninth century certain principles had been recognised as to the 
analytical classification of the bodies which compose organic matter. 
Albucasis, a savant of the eleventh century, and a student in the Arab school 
at Cordova, who, after rising to the highest rank as physician and surveyor, 



was not above preparing his own remedies and instruments, heralded, by the 
independence of his ideas and their practical applicability, a new era for 
M-ience, amidst the misty subtleties of Islamism. Avenzoar and Averroos 
were the principal apostles of this luminous doctrine, which seemed destined 
to ilhimimite in a short time the whole scientific world. Unfortunately the 
human intellect was easily dragged out of its depth in the Middle Ages. 
The investigators and inventors, such as the learned Morienus, who fled from 
Rome into the deserts of Egypt (Fig. 149), had great difficulty in steering 
clear of the shoals of experimental science in a century when the operations 
of what was called the art of frc were confounded with magic. Their 
labours in chemistry and metallurgy might have caused them to be con- 
demned as sorcerers. 

The Court of Rome deserves praise for its good sense in that, disregarding 
popular superstitions, it summoned from his cell a humble Dominican monk, 
afterwards Albertus Magnus, to make him master of the Sacred Palace, and 
subsequently Bishop of Ratisbon (1260). But, as we have already said (see the 
chapter on Philosophical Sciences), this philosopher monk, after he had been 
made bishop, wearying of earthly greatness and pomp, abandoned them without 
a sigh for the exclusion of the cloister, in order to pursue in silence his 
favourite scientific researches. This was why he was believed to be in com- 
munication with the powers of darkness, and it was said that he was guilty 
of magic, and that he made gold. People came from all parts to see him and 
question him as to the abstract arts of chemistry. His recipes were in great 
request, his manuscripts were copied by the thousand, and posterity, which 
has forgotten all about the monk and bishop, and which does not read his 
numerous philosophical works, still repeats with honour the name of the 
(iri'iit Albert. 

It must not be imagined that the princes and sovereigns of the Middle 
Ages looked at the interests of science from as lofty a point of view as many 
of the popes. Nevertheless, a French king, whose venerated memory was 
mercilessly aspersed by the philosophers of the last century, Louis IX., 
employed as tutor for his children a Dominican monk, the Pliny, the Varro of 
the Middle Ages. This was Vincent of Beauvais, the wonderful encycloptedist, 
who lived, so to speak, amongst the ancients at a time when their most splen- 
did works were despised and reviled. Vincent of Beauvais was accused of 
sorcery because he avoided the idle discussions of the schools, in order to 



work in his laboratory in the St. Chapello yard. The high intelligence of 
the King, and the piety of his mother, Queen Blanche, were scarcely enough 
to shield their learned protege from the most absurd accusations. At 
midnight people often used to creep along the quays of the Seine to see 
whether they could get a glimpse, reflected in the river, of the magic 
furnaces in which Master Vincent was supposed to evoke his familiar spirit. 

At about the same period there was much talk of another monk, the 
alchemist Raymond Lulli (born at Palma, in the island of Majorca), who, 
after a long and eventful life of wanderings and adventures, came to a tragic 

Fig. 128. The Alchemist Raymond Lulli. After an Engraving by Vriese. 

end, being stoned by the populace of Tunis in 1315. A recent attempt 
has been made to prove that amongst his numerous works on philosophy and 
theology, those which treat of alchemy should be ascribed to another savant 
almost his contemporary, and bearer of the same name. But it was precisely 
these works which had made the reputation of the theologian of Majorca. A 
thousand absurd stories were related of this singular man, and it was said 
that he would have been prosecuted as a sorcerer by the Inquisition, unless he 
had succeeded, by the help of Edward I. of England, in coining six millions 
of false money, with which the English monarch promised to undertake 


a i'lvsh Crusade against the infidels. Raymond Lulli (Fig. 128) left behind 
him numerous disciples, who were termed Lnllixtx or ilri-iinn'i-n, and who made 
a cunning use of the sad end of their leader, just as the Court of Rome 
M rnied inclined to accord him the honours of beatification. Concealing 
beneath the prestige of black magic their attempts at chemical experimental- 
ising, the Lullists propagated a report that the soul of the blessed martyr 
appeared at certain hours of the night, and confided to his neophytes the 
secrets of heaven, especially touching the divine art of transforming into fine 
gold the commonest of metals. The Lullists enjoyed considerable credit all 
over Europe, and although it might have been supposed that this sect, owing 
to its occult and mysterious practices, would have incurred the rigour of the 
ecclesiastical and civil laws, the clergy and the magistrates exhibited no 
little tolerance towards the eminent men belonging to it. The mysterious 
meetings of the Lullists were surrounded, especially in Germany, with much 
solemn formality, being held at night, in wild and uninhabited regions, 
and, if possible, near iron or copper mines (Fig. 129), where the ruggedness 
of the soil and the bareness of the landscape were in harmony with the 
arcana of the great work. It is believed that the Brothers of the Rosy 
Cross, who derived their name from a German gentleman called Rosenkrutz, 
succeeded the Lullists in the fifteenth century. 

A contemporary of Raymond Lulli, and versed, as he was, in Eastern 
languages, mathematics, philosophy, and medicine, Arnauld de Villeneuve, a 
native of Languedoc, also interrogated nature by the analysis of bodies and 
of substances. He investigated more particularly the mysteries of chemical 
science as bearing upon medicine, and in this way he discovered the various 
acids since named sulphuric, nitric, and muriatic. It is said that he was the 
first person to make alcohol and spirits of wine. Arnauld de Villeneuve was, 
together with Albertus Magnus, one of the most eminent exponents in the 
Middle Ages of the experimental art, which, still in a state of confusion, was 
exposed to the suspicions of the ignorant, and could only be practised under 
the protection of kings, or in the solitude of the cloister. It is a matter for 
regret, however, that men of such rare intelligence as Arnauld de Villeneuve 
and Raymond Lulli should have embraced the opinion and systems of 
theosophy, which was a source of false and absurd theories that often interfered 
with the application of the most remarkable discoveries in science. 

At the same epoch England had the honour of giving birth to Roger 



Bacon (Fig. 130), called the Admirable Doctor, who had a narrow escape of 
paying with his life the crime of being in advance of his age. He passed 
part of his life in prison. Sal vino degli Annati had just invented a new 
process for making glass of a lenticular shape, and Bacon took up this 
invention, and, having perfected it, made achromatic glasses and the 
telescope, thus opening the immensities of the sky to future astronomers. 
He discovered a combustible substance similar to phosphorus, and with 
saltpetre, which had hitherto only been used medicinally, he composed 

Fig. 129. The Miner. Designed and engraved in the Sixteenth Century by J. Amman. 

gunpowder. There is no truth in the story of his having been the first 
victim of his own discovery ; for, though he did not foresee the tremendous 
consequences arising out of the manufacture of this inflammable mixture, 
he had assumed that it would bring about a revolution in the art of 
war. The melting of bells, practised as early as the thirteenth century, 
suggested the idea of casting cannon (Fig. 131). Roger Bacon had 
investigated all the sciences, and yet, upon his death-bed, he bitterly 
exclaimed, " I repent of having laboured so much in the interest of science." 
Thus from the beginning of the fourteenth century, France, Germany, 



and England each produced almost simultaneously one of the most illustrious 
representatives of what was called, in the language of the day, the great art ; 
that is to say, the knowledge of the secrets of nature. Of these three 
learned philosophers, Bacon possessed the highest abilities and the largest 
powers of conception, and all three of them attracted numerous audiences to 
their lectures, for they contrived to invest even the most common subject 
with interest by their way of treating it. When Bacon described the motion 
of the celestial sphere and the regular march of the planets ; when he expounded 
his theory of the physical world, and set forth the laws which regulate the 
matter and cause the transformation of substances, he was listened to with 

Fig. 130. The Alchemist Koger Bacon. After an Engraving by Vrieae. 

admiration and in complete silence, for he was himself convinced by the 
proofs which he had obtained, and by the great problems which he believed 
that he had settled, and he communicated his own convictions to his audience. 
But, upon the other hand, experimental science often borrowed its proofs 
from the most impudent imposture. Thus Arnauld de Villeneuve showed the 
Parisians copper plates which he declared that he had just converted into 
silver, and silver foil which he alleged he could convert into fine gold. The 
people who witnessed these tricks looked upon them as so many miracles, little 
knowing that a little nitric acid mixed with water would have destroyed the 


The Inquisition burnt the hooks on alchemy and magic written by 
'Arnauld de Villeneuve; but, through the intermediacy of Pope Clement V., 
two of his works, the " Rosarium Philosophorum " and the "Flos Florum," 
were spared, though modern science has not been able to extract much that 
is useful from these obscure and diffuse compilations. The encyclopaedic 
writings of Albertus Magnus, piously preserved at Cologne, were not in any 
danger of ecclesiastical censure, and, as soon as printing was discovered, they 
were published in several towns of the Rhine provinces. The " Opus Ma jus " 


Fig. 131. Casting of a Bell, in presence of a Bishop who gives it his benediction. After the 
"Rationale Divinorum Officiorum," by William Duraud. Manuscript of the Fourteenth 
Century. In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

of Roger Bacon found in the library of the Vatican the hospitality which it 
deserved, and it may be said that this book, dedicated to Pope Clement IV., 
was a deposit for all the science of the Middle Ages. 

Most of the disciples of Roger Bacon, Arnauld de Villeneuve, and Albertus 
Magnus abandoned the chimerical attempt to effect the transmutation of 
metals, and devoted little time to operations in the laboratory, and those who 
continued to practise the experimental method derived scarcely any benefit 
from the discoveries which they really did make, on account of their absurd 
efforts to discover the philosopher's stone (Fig. 132). 



The first who looked upon the practical side of chemistry properly so 
culled was Gentile Gentili de Foligno, whose treatise upon doses and pro- 
portions of medicine may be looked upxm as a summary of medical chemistry, 
which was very complete for the time at which it was composed. Next to 
him come Antonio Quaiuer of Pavia, who manufactured artificial mineral 
waters; Saladin of Ascoli, and Arduino of Pesaro, whose works enumerate 
the substances having a mineral base which have been discovered by the 

It is to be regretted that nothing of what related to the labours of the 

Fig. 132. The German Alchemist. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving attributed to Holbein, and 
taken from the German Translation of the " Consolation of Philosophy " by Boethius, 
Augsburg, 1537, in folio. 

industrial arts at this epoch, as in the preceding ones, has been recorded in 
special treatises, for by this neglect we have lost many ingenious processes, 
whilst others, which might have been ready to hand, have only since been 
discovered quite accidentally, and after long and laborious research. More 
profit would have been derived from consulting the daily note-book of 
an artisan of that period than the farrago of those who were engaged in the 
great work ; i.e. the search for the philosopher's stone. 

u 11 



Moreover, the alchemists went to work in tin unmethodical way, and 
without any scientific theory. Their systems as to the moral value of metals, 
as to the existence of an exceptional and indecomposable body, and as to the 
search for a universal panacea could not lead to any result. They took one 
by one the substances belonging to the three kingdoms of nature, and treated 
them by fire and by water ; they combined them together, noting carefully 
the isolated phenomena produced by the chemical operation ; and they next 
endeavoured to connect as far as possible these phenomena with the most 
extraordinary ideas, and then to give to the products obtained a use in 
conformity with their external characteristics. If some unexpected revela- 
tions issued from the rows of retorts and matrasses which the alchemist was 
at work upon, they were attributed to chance, which sometimes led to some 

Fig. 133. A Mint of the Fifteenth Century. Reduced Fac-siinile of a Wood Eugraving at the 
hase of a Monetary Slip, printed at Louvain in 1487. In the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

fortunate results in these absurd processes of experimental chemistry. In 
the fifteenth century the alchemists had, unconsciously in most cases, been 
the means of disclosing to science, apart from several substances comprised in 
the materia medica, the existence of bismuth, liver of sulphur, regulus of 
antimony, and volatile fluorine of alkali. They were expert in distilling 
alcohol, in volatilising mercury, and in obtaining sulphuric acid by the 
sublimation of sulphur ; in preparing aqua regia and various kinds of ether, 
and in purifying the alkalis. They also had a scarlet dye for cloth superior 
to anything of the present day. Several processes in glass-staining which, 
though said to be lost, were merely abandoned or forgotten were invented 
by glass-blowers and enamellers. In all probability the effects of hydrogen, 
employed as a light-giving medium, revealed themselves to the alchemists 



spontaneously; and we know that a German alchemist, Eck of Sulzbach, 
had ascertained the existence of oxygen, which was not demonstrated hy 
Priestley until three hundred years afterwards. 

Alchemy was at the apogee of its celebrity in the beginning of the 
fit'trcnth century, notwithstanding the royal edicts against it and the sus- 
picions of imposture entertained concerning its adherents. Not only did 
sovereigns ask them to supply gold for the mints (Figs. 133 and 134), but 
the outside public, who put faith in the wonders of potable gold, purchased 

Fig. 134. The Officer of the Mint. Designed and engraved in the Sixteenth Century 

by J. Amman. 

from them, at an extravagant price, certain metallic mixtures combined with 
ointments and vegetable juices which were warranted to cure diseases, 
preserve the appearance of youth, render men invulnerable, produce pleasant 
dreams, prolong human life, and so forth. 

It was at this period that were composed most of the treatises upon 
alchemv, which were a crude mass of incoherent propositions and wild 
assertions, a mixture of poesy and insanity, in which all logical ideas were 
lost amidst a mass of stilted phraseology, but through which breathed a blind 
but evidently fervent faith. Amidst this chaotic collection of absurdities 

fig. 135. The Extraction of Precious Metals. Pieces in the Ceremonial Collar of the Senior 
Memher of the Goldsmiths at Ghent. Fifteenth-Century Chased Silver, size of the original. 

Fig. 136. The Foundry of Precious Metals. Pieces in the Ceremonial Collar of the Senior Member 
of the Goldsmiths at Ghent. Fifteenth-Century Chased Silver, size of the original. 


everything grand or mysterious was attributed by the alchemists to the 
demons which people the air, fire, and water, to the stars which are superior 
to the human and to the Divine will, to mysterious sympathies existing 
between the Creator and his creatures, and to the hybrid combinations 
of mineral and vegetable substances. The fifteenth century followed, in 
regard to the arts and sciences, the errors of the preceding age, which was 
full of grand manifestations, which are to be traced in those wonderful 
Gothic monuments in which the statuary has represented a mass of figures, 
sacred and profane, real and imaginary, and which give one the impression 
of being a book of alchemy, written with a chisel upon stone. And yet, 
amidst this passion for the strange and the supernatural, there were a 
few patient and laborious scholars who only devoted themselves to the 
operations of the laboratory in order to increase the progress of chemistry by 
logical experiment. Such was the Italian John Baptist Porta, who was the 
first to allude to the tree of Diana and the flowers of tin, and who discovered 
the means of reducing the metallic oxides and of colouring silver ; or, again, 
Isaac and Jean Hollandus, makers of enamel and of artificial gems, who have 
described their process of work with great minuteness and precision ; or, 
again, Sidonius and Sendivogius, who put into execution several new 
processes for dyeing stuffs. 

In 1488 the Venetian Government, following the example of Henry VII. 
of England and several other monarchs of the time, issued a severe interdict 
against alchemist practices, but the men who pretended to make gold 
continued their so-called transmutations. At this epoch it was that the 
Rosicrucians formed, under the name of Voarchodumia, a secret association, 
the principal object of which was 'the discovery of gold and silver mines, 
and, above all, that of the great work (Figs. 135 and 136). In the six- 
teenth century science began to free itself from the ancient routine of the 
Middle Ages, and to seek a road in which she might use reason as a staff, 
and observation as a lantern to her path. And, strange to say, it was 
alchemy which took the initiative of this scientific reform. Paracelsus (born 
at Einsiedlen, in Switzerland, in 1493), to whom frequent allusion was made 
in a previous chapter (Medical and Occult Sciences), may be considered the 
most characteristic type of contemporary alchemists. He represented, so to 
speak, two men combined in one : upon the one hand, there was the daring 
reformer who upset all the received ideas of medicine since the days of 



Hippocrates, and who, by his incessant experiments, made many additions to 
t lie arts ; upon the other, the theosophist we may even say, the impostor 
who protended that he was one of thdse privileged beings who receive their 
knowledge direct from God by mere Divine emanation. This deifying of the 
illustrious savant contributed to the success of his doctrines ; but he ought, in 
his own interests, to have held more aloof from men, and lived in a sort of 
mysterious solitude (Fig. 137). After an adventurous career as a youth, 
Paracelsus had acquired, at the age of thirty-two, an immense reputation, 
and his pupils at the University of Bale, where he filled the chair of 


Fig. 137. The Alchemist Paracelsus. After an Engraving by Vriese. 

medicine, were to be counted by the thousand. The enthusiasm was so great 
that princes and nobles swelled his cortege, and the people kissed the skirts 
of his robes and the buckles of his shoes. He had cured eighteen notable 
personages who were believed to be suffering from incurable diseases, and 
there was a regular scramble to obtain the elixir supposed to insure indefinite 
prolongation of human life. 

Paracelsus, having probably promised more than he was able to perform, 
became so unpopular that he was obliged to leave Bale, and, accompanied by 
a few faithful followers, to resume his wanderings, the result being that he 
died in misery in a hospital. Before his time, Henry Cornelius Agrippa of 


Nettesheim, philosopher, physician, and alchemist, underwent the same fate 
at Grenoble (1535), after having been imprisoned at Brussels as a magician. 
We will not attempt to justify the strange theory which has been called the 
pantheism of Paracelsus, a theory in which he only pretended to believe 
to suit his own purposes and strike the imaginations of those who would 
not, perhaps, have paid any heed to more sober ideas. But it must be 
pointed out that in his chemical operations Paracelsus had constantly in view 
the simplification of the processes resorted to, and the discovery of the 
elementary principles and of the truly active mediums of nature. His 
celebrated arcana amount to this, and he says, "The true object of alchemy 
is to prepare arcana, not to make gold." Starting from this principle, 
he denounced the tavern-keepers and cooks, who drown the virtue of -the 
best arcana in soups ; the apothecaries, who can only compose insipid syrups 
and repulsive decoctions, when they have ready to hand, at the bottom of 
their stills- (Figs. 138 to 147), extracts and dyes derived from the best 
vegetables and minerals. Paracelsus was equally indignant with the doctors, 
whose barbarous prescriptions embodied a mass of substances which 
neutralised each other. He was very much opposed to the use of correctives 
added to -certain pharmaceutical preparations, especially when these cor- 
rectives had no natural relation with the preparations used. He argued that 
it was necessary to discover the quintessence of plants the ether of Aristotle 
and the active principles of organized bodies, isolating them with great care, 
and using them to avert the different functional disorders of the animal 
machine. Bones of the hare, coral, mother-of-pearl, and other analogous 
bodies, from which he claimed to extract, by chemical process, the arcana, 
were doubtless used by him for the sole purpose of misleading the inquisitive ; 
and when he wished to render these mixtures efficacious, he added to them 
certain potent substances of which he had previously ascertained the 

In any event, it may safely be said that, owing to the labours of 
Paracelsus, alchemy exchanged its speculative for a practical character ; and 
this is so true that George Agricola (born at Misnia in 1494), who proceeded 
with greater caution than Paracelsus, effected, without any disturbance or 
noisy discussion, the auspicious revolution in metallurgy which his ardent 
contemporary was unable to achieve without a fierce struggle in medicine and 
the pharmacopoeia. Agricola resided at Bale, and his sedate temperament was 


in keeping with the manners of the inhabitants of that business city, while his 
scientific discoveries could not but please and interest them, when they found 
it possible to give them an immediate and useful application to arts and 
industry. From about 1530 at which period Paracelsus had already 
quitted Bale to 1560 that is to say, five years after the death of Agricola 

Figs. 138 to 141. Furnace, Retorts, Stills, and Distilling Apparatus, as used by Chemists and 
Alchemists of the Sixteenth Century. After an Engraving by Yriese. 

the printing-presses of Westhmer and Froben were incessantly publishing 
Latin works, most of them illustrated with wood engravings, in which the 
father of metallurgic science expounded the results of his long series of 

Henceforth, chimiastrie, or the art of transforming be dies ar.d substances 

c c 


from, a medical point of view, and metallurgy, or the art of extracting and 
purifying metals for the use of industry two sciences having many points 
of contact and of difference advanced in parallel lines upon the road of 
progress. Alchemy, ceasing to be experimental and becoming merely 
psychological, was abandoned to the study of a few fanatical adherents, and 
finally disappeared altogether from the enlarged domain of positive science. 
A history of the conflict between the psychological alchemists and the 
chimiasfres (or new chemists) would b3 a very interesting one, especially if it 
related how the genius of the Middle Ages gradually lost the ground which 
it had held for so many centuries ; but the place for such a history is not 

Figs. 142 and 1 43. Furnaces, as used by the Chemists and Alchemists of the Middle Ages. 
After an Engraving by Vriese. 

here. We can only summarise the salient facts, deducing from them 
afterwards the principal consequences. The conflict was fiercest upon the 
banks of the Rhine. While Graterole, Bracheschus, and Alexander of 
Suchten sided with the alchemists, and upheld the speculative theories of 
Avicenna, Gerber, and Raymond Lulli, Conrad Gesner, Thomas Mufetus, 
and Nicholas Guibert examined the science by the light of the ideas which 
had inaugurated the new period. 

In the meanwhile, Cornelius Agrippa, the sceptic, who from his 
childhood had been familiar with the mysteries of alchemy, and even of 
necromancy, was tracing the line which separated science from speculation, 



and the art from the mere trade made out of it. This was the art 
" concerning which he could say a good deal more, had he not taken an oath of 
secrecy when he was initiated into its mysteries," which means, no doubt, that 
he could disclose a good deal of roguery and imposture. He says, " I could 
show the alchemist fabricating azure, cinnabar, ore, vermilion, musical gold, 
and other admixtures of colours ; I could show the same man committing a 
regular fraud, forging a Bonnet philosopher's stone, by contact with which all 

Figs. 144 to 147. Furnaces and various Apparatus, as used by the Chemists and Alchemist* of 
tbo Middle Ages. Alter an Engraving by Vriete. 

other stones are converted into gold or silver, according to the desire of 
Alidus. I would drive such a man out of the country, and confiscate his 
goods ; I would inflict upon him bodily chastisement, for he offends God, the 
Christian religion, and society." Agrippa, after having promised to keep 
silence, continues, carried away by his indignation, " It would take too much 
time to recount all the follies, the idle secrets, and the enigmas of this trade : 
of the green lion, the fugitive stag, the flying eagle, the inflated toad, of the 


crow's head, of the black blacker than the black, of the seal of Mercury, of 
the mud of wisdom, and other countless absurdities of a like kind. As to 
the science itself, in which I am well versed, and which must not be 
confounded with the trade made out of it, I believe it to be worthy of the 
honour which Thucydides says should be paid to an honest woman : that of 
talking about her as little as possible." Agrippa has also left a very graphic 
description of the sad condition to which the alchemists of the lower ranks 
were then reduced, "travelling from fair to fair, in order to make a little 
money by sale of white-lead, vermilion, antimony, and other drugs used by 
women for painting the face, drugs which the Scripture calls ointments of 
lust." These bastards of science stole when they could not earn money, and 
finally resorted to the coining of false money (Fig. 148). They were, as 
Agrippa called them, " gaol-birds." Such were the surviving alchemists in 
France in the reign of Frai^ois I., and they were far more calculated to 
discredit the spirit of experimentalising than to bring it into favour amongst 
the upper classes. The famous Nicholas Flamel had adopted very different 
means from these, a hundred and fifty years before, to make himself popular 
amongst the people of Paris. A sworn professor of the University, a 
philosopher, a naturalist, and doubtless also an alchemist, Flamel enjoyed 
a reputation for probity which had probably not less to do with his wealth 
than the cause of the holy stone, so long held in bad repute. People did not 
stop to inquire whether fortunate speculations or sums of money deposited 
with him by proscribed Jews who died without heirs and beyond the frontiers 
of France had increased a hundred-fold the modest savings of the scribe 
of the parish, St. Jacques do la Boucherie ; the common people, always ready 
to believe in the supernatural, attributed his large fortune exclusively to 
alchemy, and long after his death no citizen of Paris would have dared to 
pass the house of Flamel and Pernelle, his wife, at night without signing 
himself, so as to keep off the evil spirits which were believed to haunt the 
abode in which the alchemist concealed his treasure. Yet Flamel, at his 
death, founded masses for the repose of his soul in all the churches of Paris, 
and bequeathed his goods to the poor. 

The great good fortune of Nicholas Flamel no doubt helped to advance 
experimental science, but it led thousands of enthusiasts astray, and the 
search for the philosopher's stone became the mania of the fifteenth century. 
An ancient author, who did not at all favour the alchemists, says of them, 

AM) M.t '//AM/ r. 


" Bad coal, sulphur, excrement, poisons, and all kinds of hard work are 

swivtr:- tli;in II.IIK y to them, until, having consumed patrimony, heritage, and 















furniture, all of which disappear in smoke and ashes, the poor wretches end 
their days in rags and misery." 



Flamel, who died in 1415, carried to the tomb the secret of the great 
work which he declared that he had in possession, and more than a century 
and a half elapsed before the doctrine of the Paracelsists obtained a place in 
the University of Paris. It was only in the reign of Henry IV. that Baillif 
de la Riviere and Joseph Duchesne, both physicians to the King, and George 
Penot, a pupil, like them, of the Bale school, succeeded in attracting attention 
to the name and the doctrines of the great Swiss alchemist. 

This reaction in favour of the chemical system of Paracelsus, though 
slow and undecisive, was not the less significant. The war broke out afresh 
between the eclectic chemists and the Paracelsists, and it was amidst this conflict 

Fig. 149. The Alchemist Morienus. After an Engraving by Vriese. 

of the two schools that chimiastrie, against which was ranged the insane 
spiritualism of the Rosicrucians, those sectaries of mystic alchemy, was able 
to make its way upon the as yet vaguely defined ground of general chemistry. 
The two other branches of the science, metallurgy and technical chemistry, 
owing to the nature of their customary application, did not encounter so 
many obstacles, and in course of time were protected and encouraged by the 
governments and local administrations. Venice, which had so long been 
hostile to the psychological chemists, showed favour to the practical and 
working chemists, and the same was the case in all the cities and states 
where commerce throve. The metallurgists demonstrated to the public that 


they would consult their interests always the main motive of human 
progress by allowing them to construct blast-furnaces, foundries, and 
manufactories, and in this way they transformed in a few years the whole 
social system. The savants devoted their attention to metallurgic chemistry, 
which did in reality make gold in the sense that it extracted mineral matter 
from all kinds of metals, and submitted the metals themselves to all 
the changes which they underwent in manufacture. In Germany, for 
instance, the learned Pole, Tycho Brahe, so famous as an astronomer, spent 
nearly his whole time in a laboratory with the Emperor Rudolph II., who 
expended large sums in scientific experiments, but who paid no heed to the 
philosopher's stone. So, too, in England, Roger Bacon, who has deservedly 
been called the father of experimental physics, did not think it beneath him 
to engage in chemical researches ; while in France Bernard Palissy, whose 
labours have already been referred to, did much for technical chemistry. 


The Origin of Magic. The Savants and Philosophers reputed to be Magicians. Different Forms 
of Occult Sciences. Oneiromancy. Oneirocritics and Diviners. Necromancy. Practices of 
the Necromancers. Astrology. Celebrated Astrologers. Chiromancy. Ae'i-omancy and 
other kinds of Divination. The Angelic Art and the Notorious Art. The Spells of the 
Saints. Magic. The Evocation of Good and Evil Genii. Pacts wilh Demons. Celebrated 
Magicians. Formula) and Circles. Incense and Perfumes. Talismans and Images. The 
tormenting of Wax Images. The Sagittarii. The Evil Eye. Magic Alchemy. Cabalism. 
The F.iiries, Elfs, and Spirits. The Were-wolves. The Sabbath. A Trial for Sorcery. 

JVERY illusion contains a principle, 
every false science has its history," 
says M. Ferdinand Denis, in a work 
of which we propose to give an analysis. 
" To imderstand as a whole the dif- 
ferent branches of occult philosophy, 
as it was understood in the Middle 
Ages, it is necessary to say a few 
words about magic as practised by the 

To stud}' this vast subject in its primi- 
tive sources, it would be necessary to explain the magic formulae of the Tcdas 
in India, as handed down to us in the religion of the Hindoos, and to pene- 
trate the systems of Hebraic cabalism. But we need not go back further 
than Diodorus of Sicily, who in the time of Julius Caesar visited the most 
distant countries of Asia and Africa, and who tells us of a Chaldean tribe 
which composed a sacred caste, devoted exclusively to the study of the occult 
sciences, and incessantly seeking to discover, by means of astrology and magic, 
the secrets of the future. The same historian tells us that the Assyrians had 
their diviners and augurs, to watch the flight of the birds and to offer up 
sacrifices to the unknown gods, many centuries before these superstitious 


practices had been introduced into use amongst the Romans. Pliny, in his 
turn, borrowed from tradition a curious chapter upon magic in the time of 
Homer ; and other Latin writers have given us some information as to the 
practice of magic amongst the Etruscans. This is enough to show that 
ancient magic, and more especially Eastern magic, was the cradle of the 
occult sciences in the Middle Ages. 

The occult sciences existed, moreover, amongst the ancients, though they 
were not called by this generic name, which comprises all the forms of the 
art of divination, notably Astrology and Oneiromancy ; all the modes of 
evoking good or evil spirits, notably Theurgy and Goety ; all the material 
and spiritual communications between the dead and living that is to say, 
Necromancy ; and all the means of exercising a supernatural and mysterious 
power by the influence of dreams that is to say, Sorcery. But when the 
advent of Christianity changed the face of the world, the first heresiarchs, 
who had only embraced the new faith in the hope of dragging it down into 
the chaos of pagan religions, appear to have been the faithful guardians of 
the dogmas and precepts of ancient magic : these were the Gnostics and the 
followers of Valentine, Harpocrates, and Basilides, who declared that they 
were the depositaries of the wisdom of the Eastern theosophists, and who 
disfigured the Christian worship by mysteries either obscure, obscene, or 
ridiculous. Thus they added to the ceremonies of the Greek Church a mass 
of recent practices invented by priests of Buddha or Zoroaster, and which 
were not devoid of grandeur and solemnity. 

It was at the epoch (the third century) when Gnosticism, the sovereign 
science, flourished in the school of Alexandria, that there appeared two 
illustrious philosophers Plotinus, born at Lycopolis in Egypt, and his 
disciple Porphyrus, born at Constantinople who in a manner founded the 
new magical science, and who may be looked upon as the first demono- 
graphers of the Middle Ages. Plotinus, a thorough Platonist, had studied 
the philosophy of the Orientalists in Persia and India, before coming to teach 
mysticism and pantheism at Rome. He embodied in a work entitled the 
" Enneades" that is to say, collection of nine books a whole set of doctrines 
which Porphyrus completed and commentated, and which contains a selection 
of the marvellous traditions of the sacred art in the East. After them, 
lamblichus, born at Tyre in Phoenicia, who also had been educated in the 
school of Alexandria, discovered a systematic formula for uniting theurgy to 



magic. Ennapius, Eustathius, and the Emperor Julian himself, accepted the 
system of Jamblichus, who, in evoking the religious mysteries of ancient 
Egypt, wrote a sort of gospel for the thaumaturgists and the magicians. 
Jamblichus may be said to have expounded the physics of the reign of 
demons, and Proclus the metaphysics. 

The revolution which then took place in the neo-pagan philosophy caused 


Fig. 150. Druid carrying the Crescent of the Sixth Day of the Moon, and the Druid Sacrificer. 
After a Roman Monument of the Second Century. 

the aspirations and tendencies of the ardent and inquiring minds, which, after 
endeavouring to discover the secrets of creation and of terrestrial existence, 
sought outside of material nature a source of ideal satisfactions which they 
could not find in the real world, to converge upon the same end. The eyes of 
the mind were opened, and human intelligence became enamoured of the 
occult sciences which brought it into communication with the superior 
intellects of the invisible world. Thus, upon the one hand, there was a 


scientific movement resulting from the daring speculations of a few savants 
who endeavoured to fathom the arcana of philosophy ; upon the other hand, 
there arose and extended amongst the ignorant and credulous populations of 
Europe an instinctive love for the wonderful, arising out of local legends, a 
vague desire to march towards the unknown, a feverish impatience to witness 
terrible evocations of spirits, and a criminal hope of obtaining the interven- 
tion of demons, who were credited with the possession of a terrible power, 
and who became the docile agents of a popular magic more active and 
dangerous than that of the philosophers of the Alexandrian school. This 
new magic had its origin not only in the superstitions of Celtic races, but 
also in the sombre mysteries of Northern mythologies. It was a sort of dark 
and savage religion, which the people of the North and certain Asiatic hordes 
had imported into Germany and Gaul (Fig. 150), with their barbarous 
worship and their hideous gods, , scattering terror by their sanguinary rites 
and magic incantations amongst the primitive inhabitants of these countries, 
which were still full of the winsome and poetical souvenirs of paganism. 
It has been said with truth, of one of the most ancient monuments of the 
Scandinavian language, called the llaru-mnl, that it contained the germ of 
most of the superstitious ideas which, by their admixture with the magic 
theories of the East and of antiquity, brought about the creation of the 
sorcery of the Middle Ages. . 

The occult sciences long remained in the shade, and were worked out in 
silence far from the supervision of the ecclesiastical schools, but under the 
influence of popular traditions which had preserved the mystic and divinatory 
formulae in use amongst the Chaldeans, the Greeks, and the Eomans, and 
which combined with the lugubrious reminiscences of the Valhalla of Odin 
the graceful fancies of the bards of Brittany. The Middle Ages employed 
all the elements of the sacred art and of magic sciences borrowed from many 
different times and lands, linking them with the Mahometan creeds which the 
Arabs had imported into Spain. A.s early as the eleventh century there wi-n- 
Saracen schools in the Iberian peninsula, where the occult sciences, which 
served to unveil the wonders of the supernatural world, were publicly 
expounded. It was long supposed by the demonographers that the illustrious 
Gerbert, born at Aurillac in Auvergne, who had completed his studies amongst 
the Spanish Arabs at the school of Cordova before being elected pope, only 
owed his election to a mysterious pact which he had made with the demons. 



It would be superfluous to refute such a folly, but it may be remarked that 
two centuries later the Arabic was, so to speak, the key and the first instru- 
ment of study for penetrating the mysterious sanctuary of hidden sciences. 

This was, perhaps, what brought about the secret introduction into the 
Christian, and even into the monastic schools, of this language which was so 
little diffused throughout Europe. Most of the savants who dabbled in these 
mysterious sciences, which were proscribed and condemned by the Church, 
learnt Arabic as well as Hebrew and Syriac, a knowledge of which was 
necessary to become initiated into the mysteries of cabalism. This was why 
any one who knew Arabic or Hebrew was suspected of magic, and even of 

Fig. 151." How Alexander engaged in Combat with Men having Horses' Heads and vomiting 
Smoke from their Mouths." Miniature of a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, No. 11,040. 
In the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

sorcery. From the time of Plotinus and Porphyrus to that of Cardan and 
Paracelsus, no man of eminence could assist the progress of science or make 
any great scientific discovery without being reputed a magician, or stigma- 
tized as a sorcerer a fatal appellation which, attached to the name of a noble 
victim of his love for science, disturbed his repose, often interrupted his 
labours, and sometimes put his liberty and life in peril. Raymond Lulli, 
Albertus Magnus^ Roger Bacon, Vincent of Beauvais, and many others, after 
having composed a great number of remarkable works upon scholastic 
philosophy, could not escape these unjust suspicions and persecutions. The 
Florentine encyclopaedist, Cecco d'Ascoli, whose cabalistic studies had excited 


the suspicions of the Inquisition, was accused of being in communication with 
the devil, and burnt at the stake in Rome in 1327. 

The occult sciences had spread very rapidly at the epoch when the thirst 
for knowledge gave an impetus to all the intellectual forces of the Middle 
Ages. This was the period of the great encyclopedias, which were compili <l 
simultaneously in all countries where the Renaissance of letters was ushered 
in with more enthusiasm than discretion. These encyclopaedias comprised, 
amidst the vast mass of divine and human sciences, hermetic philosophy, 
judicial astrology, theurgy, and the other branches of magic ; but, notwith- 
standing this, the occult sciences were not taught ct rnflii'th-u ; that is to say, 
from the chairs of the Universities, over which the religious authorities always 
exercised an unlimited power of control and suppression. The invention of 
printing, in the middle of the fifteenth century, all at once conferred upon 
teaching from books a degree pf^ liberty which oral instruction had never 
possessed. The occult sciences profited thereby, and, without taking into 
account the prohibitions and condemnations of the Church, printing brought 
into full light the doctrines and experimental knowledge belonging to each 
kind of magic, which had hitherto remained hidden. In most cases these 
publications did not render the authors or printers liable to any danger, for 
the Catholic Church was at this period more engaged in pulling down the 
militant heresies which attacked the dogma and the very essence of religion. 
Cardan, Paracelsus, Cornelius Agrippa, Jean Reuchlin, and many other psycho- 
logists, though they were more or less astrologers, demonologists, and magi- 
cians, were not interfered with for their writings, which, going through several 
editions, were very widely circulated ; but in the beginning of the sixteenth 
century, certain inquisitors, amongst others Henry Institor and Springer in 
their "Malleus Maleficorum," denounced the formidable invasion of sorcery, 
and invoked against its adepts the penal laws decreed by the ecclesiastical 
authorities. It was only about the middle of this century that the civil 
power began to proceed against the sorcerers ; and it was encouraged, seconded, 
and urged by the jurisconsults, who seemed fully agreed to punish the insti- 
gators and proselytes of an illusory science, reputed criminal because it 
participated in the works of the demons. One of these stern magistrates, 
Pierre de Lancre, President of the Bordeaux Parliament, boasted in his 
"Treatise on the Inconstancy of Evil Spirits and Demons" (1610), th;it 
he had been more severe on the sorcerers than the Inquisition itself ; and his 


contemporary, the political philosopher Jean Bodin, calmly enumerated in 
his " Demonomania " (1580) the list of persons who had been handed over to 
the secular arm as demonomaniacs or sorcerers during the reign of the 
Valois kings. The magic art was destined to disappear and vanish in smoke 
when, to use the picturesque expression of Vico, " Curiosity, the mother of 
Ignorance, gave birth to true Science." 

We may now examine in succession the principal theoretical and practical 
divisions of occult philosophy. 

Oneirocricy (that is to say, the explanation of dreams, from the two Greek 
words, oi/eipos, a dream, and xpt'trts, judgment), or Oneiromancy (the divining of 
dreams, from the two Greek words, oveipos, a dream, and /xaiWa, prediction) 
is of very ancient origin. The Egyptians, the Jews, and the Greeks had 
reduced the art of interpreting dreams into a regular doctrine. The mystic 
traditions of this art; which was implanted in all the pagan religions, were all 
the more readily revived in the Middle Ages, because the Holy Scriptures 
supplied many instances of prophetic dreams, explained and afterwards 
fulfilled, which the Church of Jesus Christ naturally accepted as indisputable 
facts in the history of the people of God. The explanation of dreams did 
not seem contrary to the Catholic faith, inasmuch as Synesius, who was 
Bishop of Ptolemais in the fourth century, composed a treatise upon Dreams, 
in which he endeavoured to sanctify by Christian reflections the belief of the 
ancients, by making of oneirocricy a science of individual observation, which 
enabled distinctions to be made between natural dreams, Divine dreams, and 
dreams caused by the evil one. This triple distinction of the nature of 
dreams was admitted as a fundamental rule in the oneirocricy of the Middle 
Ages. However, another father of the Church, Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, 
who possessed a surer judgment than his contemporary Synesius, refused to 
see in dreams more than a momentary derangement of the mind, caused by 
the recent emotions which it might have experienced. He poetically com- 
pared the brain of man during sleep to the string of a harp, which, after 
emitting its sound, still vibrates after the sound has died away. 

Great as were the repugnances of the Church to the systematic interpre- 
tation of dreams, the oneiroscopists by profession those who made of this 
interpretation, which had been condemned by the popes and the councils, a 
sacred or diabolic art exercised their mischievous trade with impunity in the 
palaces of kings as well as in the towns and in the country. They had 



nothing to fear from the civil authorities, and they defied those of the 
Church. However, Pope Gregory II., in the eighth century, denounced as 
(I i '1,-ntnhh the practice of divination whict consisted in seeking auguries in the 
visions of the night. The sixth Council of Paris, held in 829, condemned the 
art of oneiromancy, as entailing pernicious consequences, and assimilated it 
with the darkest superstitions of paganism. These canonical condemnations 
did not prevent the art of divining by dreams from being generally practised 
in the Middle Ages, either for forecasting the future or for discovering 
hidden treasure. The first special treatise on this subject was written by 
Arnauld de Villeneuve in the thirteenth century, and was not very widely 

Fig. 152. " How Alexander engaged in Combat with Pigs having large teeth a cubit long, and 
with Men and Women having Six Hands." Miniature of a Manuscript of the Thirteenth 
Century, No. 11,040. In the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

circulated, for the adepts in oneiromancy did not care to spread abroad the 
technical elements of an art which they practised as a means of making 
money. It was not until the sixteenth century that this process of divination 
hci ;ime general and popular, when the Venice printing-press had published 
the " Oneirocriticon," written in Greek, and ascribed to a philosopher of 
Ephesus called Artemidorus, who is said to have composed it in the reign of 
the Emperor Antoninus. This book, translated into several languages, and 
ivpiiuted many times, became the manual and code of the oneiromancers, 
though his system did not repose upon any scientific or rational basis. For 
instance, an-cmling to this system, whoever dreamt that his hair was thick 



and carefully curled might anticipate an accession of wealth ; upon the other 
hand, anything wrong with the hair foreshadowed something unfavourable. 
It was a bad sign to wear a wreath of flowers not in season. In this theory 
of dreams borrowed, no doubt, from the East " the eyes relate to children, 
as the head does to the father of the family, the arms to the brothers, the 
feet to the servants ; the right hand to the mother, to the sons, and to 
friends ; the left hand to the wife and the daughter." The learned Jerome 
Cardan, who did not choose to accept these vague and incoherent indications, 
attempted to establish new laws of oneirocricy, and arranged the dreams in 

Fig. 153. The Vision of Charlemagne. After a Miniature in the " Chroniques de Saint- Denis." 
Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century. In the National Library, Paris. 

categories corresponding with the seasons, the months, and the hours during 
which they occurred. But the common people, little doubting that he was 
unconsciously reproducing the simpler but more logical system of Pliny in 
his " Natural History," merely explained the dreams by taking them in their 
opposite sense, and this was the foundation of a small popular work, which 
has been frequently revised and renewed since the sixteenth century, " The 
Key to Dreams." 

Oneirocricy might have been to a certain extent harmless, in spite of its 
superstitious absurdities ; but such was not the case with necromancy (derived 
from the two Greek words I/CK/DO'S, death, and /xarre/a, divination, or the 



art of foretelling the future by evoking the dead), a terrible and imaginary 
science which had earned for its adepts the name of necromancers. This 

Fig. 154. The Image of Dame Astrology, with the Three Fates. After a Miniature in the " Trait* 
de la Cabale Chretionne," in Prose, by-Jean Thcnuud, a Cordelier of Angouleme, a Work 
dedicated to Francois I. Manuscript of the Sixteenth Century. In the Arsenal Library, Paris. 

srirnrc was all the more believed in during the Middle Ages because it 
.i) i] >:! red, in tin- eves <>t' a superficial observer, to be based upon the authority 

i i 


of Scripture, through the Witch of Endor whom Saul asked to evoke the 
spirit of Samuel. The practices of this art were not in all cases of a solemn 
and strikiner character : for the evocation of the dead consisted sometimes in 

D ' 

merely pronouncing certain phrases, half grotesque and unintelligible, at 
night, either in a cemetery or a cellar, by the light of a black taper. In other 
cases, it is true, this evocation was surrounded by the most horrible mysteries, 
and the necromancer accompanied them by the effusion of blood. A child 
was put to death, and its head, placed upon a dish, surrounded by lighted 
tapers, was supposed to open its mouth at a given moment, and speak as from 
the tomb. Sometimes the necromancer merely summoned up a mute phantom, 
which by a gesture or a look replied to the question put to it. It was in 
this way that Albertus Grotus, at the request of the Emperor Frederick 
Barbarossa, evoked the spirit of his wife, who appeared before him, gloomy 
and sorrowful, but still recognisable, and wearing her imperial robes. Necro- 
mancy, which must have had its origin in the hypogea of ancient Egypt, 
and which has furnished so many terrible stories to the credulity of the 
Middle Ages, eventually became fused in sorcery. 

Another branch of the art of divination, which flourished in Europe from 
the beginning of the Middle Ages to the sixteenth century, was astrology, that 
mysterious science which was intimately connected with astronomy, and which 
addressed itself to the eyes as well as to the mind, so that the masters of 
science consulted the celestial vault as they would an immense book, in which 
each star, having received the name and meaning of one of the letters in 
the Hebrew alphabet, recorded in indelible characters the destiny of empires 
and sovereigns as well as that of the whole human race, which was supposed 
to be subject, each man at his birth, to the influence of the planets (Fig. 
154). Astrology was the oldest of the occult sciences, for it came from 
Chaldea, and was rocked, according to the Hebrew works, in the cradle of the 
world. The Jewish nation, which was the natural heiress of this primitive 
science, piously preserved the deposit confided to its doctors. One of them, 
Simeon Ben-Jocha'i, to whom is ascribed the celebrated book of the " Zohar," 
succeeded, according to the tradition of the Talmud, in attaining to such a 
degree of familiarity with the celestial mysteries relating to the position of 
the stars, that he was able to read the laws of Jehovah in the sky before they 
were imposed upon the earth by their Divine Author. It is easy to under- 
stand that under the empire of such ideas, higher intellects, deeply interested 


in astronomical science, must have modified at their will the science of which 
they were the boldest interpreters. Hence, no doubt, arose the fondness of 
the Jews for astronomy, which they resorted to principally for drawing 
horoscopes and predicting the future. This was why the Jewish astrologers 
were in such good odour during the Middle Ages. They were admitted 
into the presence of kings and princes, who loaded them with honours and 
riches, while the Israelitish race generally was being treated with such great 

The famous Arab geographer Edrisi, who was the favourite of Roger II., 
King of Sicily, at the close of the eleventh century, owed rather to astrology 
than to geography the favour in which he was held by that prince, and it has 
been asserted that the two circular tables of silver which he engraved with 
great skill for the King were not meant for a terrestrial globe, but for a 
celestial sphere which reproduced the motions of the stars and their 
conjunctions from an astrological point of view. It is well known how 
eagerly, in the thirteenth century, Alfonso X., King of Castile, surnamed the 
Learned, took counsel with the rabbis in his investigations of astronomy and 
astrology. Two centuries later, John II., King of Portugal, whom Queen 
Isabella of Castile called the man par excellence, had in his suite a Jew, Master 
Rorigo, who perfected the astrolabe (Jacob's staff), and who, doubtless, took 
part in the plans for the great maritime expeditions to the East Indies which 
his Royal Highness dispatched at about the same time as Christopher 
Columbus, by the aid of his own knowledge of astronomy, discovered the 
fourth quarter of the world. 

The history of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries records the doing of a 
great number of astrologers, who were as famous during their lifetime as 
they are now unknown, though they composed many curious and some 
remarkable books. Without recalling the numerous compilers of almanacs 
and predictions who lived during the sixteenth century, but amongst whom 
may be mentioned Francois Rabelais, who had but little faith in astrology, 
we may cite the names of Luke Gauric, the learned Neapolitan prelate (born 
in 1476), who drew the horoscope of the cities, popes, and kings of his day ; 
Simon Phares, the astrologer- in -ordinary to King Charles VIII., a converted 
Jew, who has left a manuscript history of the most famous astrologers ; 
Thiebault, the physician-in-ordinary and astrologer to Fra^ois I. ; Cosmo 
Ruggieri, the Florentine astrologer, the confidant of Catherine de' Medicis ; 


and the most famous of them all, Michel de Nostredame, otherwise 
Nostradamus, physician-iu-ordiniary and astrologer to Charles IX., who was 
born at Salon, in France, in 1503, and who died there in 1566. He is the 
only astrologer whose name has remained popular, and this through his 
" collection of perpetual predictions," compiled in enigmatic verses, and 
published under the title of " Quatrains Astroiiomiques," and which have 
been reprinted several times under the title of " Propheties." 

Judicial astrology, so called to distinguish it from alchemical astrology 
and magical astrology, had no fixed rules until the thirteenth century ; it 
had long followed in the wake of astronomy properly so called, but from this 
time it started upon a path of its own, and adopted many imaginary theories, 
repeatedly borrowing from the occult sciences certain mysterious and fanciful 

According to the pure theory of the art, the seven planets then discovered, 
including the sun, formed, with the twelve figures of the zodiac, the totality 
of the astrological system. Each of these stars or constellations was supposed 
to govern, by its special influence, either a limb of the human body, or the 
whole body, or a whole nation, and this bounden relation of the celestial 
bodies to earthly things extended to all the beings and all the products in 
creation. " The flowers are to the earth as the stars to the sky," the pseudo- 
Trismegistus is made to say in the old French translation ; " there is not one 
flower amongst them which some star has not bidden to grow." Albertus 
Magnus, or rather the anonymous author of the book of " Wonderful Secrets " 
published with his name to it, tells us that the planet of Saturn presides over 
life, sciences, and buildings ; that wishes, honours, riches, and the cleanliness of 
the garments are dependent upon Jupiter ; that Mars exercises his influence 
over wars, persons, marriages, and feuds ; that hope, happiness, and gain 
came from the Sun ; that love and friendship are under the influence of 
Venus ; that disease, debts, and fear are beneath the influence of Mercury, 
who is also the planet of commerce ; while the Moon causes wounds, robberies, 
and dreams. 

As to the intrinsic qualities of the planetary influences, they were 
denoted by the planets themselves. The Sun was favourable ; Saturn, cold 
and cheerless ; Jupiter, temperate ; Mars ardent ; Venus, fruitful ; Mercury, 
inconstant ; the Moon, melancholy. The days, the colours, and the metals 
were also subject to the influence of the planets and of the constellations. 


But, to draw any kind of horoscope, the first step was to observe with grout 
care what planets or constellations were dominant in the sky at the precise 
hour when the operation began. The next step was to examine, with the 
guidance of very complicated calculations, the consequences to be deduced 
from the positions and conjunctions of the stars (Fig. 155). The most 
difficult part of the science consisted in determining the houses of the Suns and 
their respective properties. The day was divided into four equal parts : the 
ascendant of the sun, the middle of the sky, the descending of the sun, and 
the lower part of the sky. " These four parts of the day were subdivided 
into twelve distinct parts, which were called the ticelre homes. Great 
importance was therefore attached, in drawing a horoscope, to ascertaining in 

Fig. 155. Specimen of a Genethliac, or Astrological Horoscope, composed in the Sixteenth 


which house the stars appeared, especially as these houses of the sun varied 
astronomically, according to the countries, the time of year, and the hour of 
the day or night. This is why two horoscopes, drawn by two different 
wtrologers at different places, but at the same moment, would be utterly 
opposed to one another. But these facts were not taken into account, and the 
errors and inconsistencies which were always occurring were imputed to the 
astrologers, and not to astrology, which was never suspected until, disen- 
cumbered of all these superstitious follies, it entered the domain of the exact 
sciences through its fusion with astronomy. 

If men sought to interpret the future by means of the sky, just as they 
had sought to forecast their individual destiny by means of their own dreams, 


it is not surprising that they should have interrogated their own bodies 
with a like expectation. From the earliest times the peoples of the East 
had believed that the broken and multiple lines which radiate from the 
sutures of the skull are, in fact, the strokes of a mysterious handwriting 
which contained the secret of each man's individual fate. 

The Middle Ages were therefore quite prepared to recognise a symbolical 
writing of a similar kind in the countless lines, more or less distinct, which 
correspond with the inflections of the skin of our hand. This speculative 
science, called chiromancy (from the Greek words x'p> hand, and /xaiWa, 
divination), had more adepts than all the other sciences of divination, and 
was eventually merged in astrology, giving rise to a number of systems 
which have been upheld by savants of unquestionable merit. 

The chiromancers cunningly founded their doctrine upon the following 
passage in the Exodus, which is repeated almost word for word in the 
Book of Job : " This shall be as a sign in his hand, and as an instru- 
ment before his eyes" (xiii. 9). But the Church would not admit of 
this futile interpretation of the holy text, and chiromancy was one of the 
superstitions which she most uncompromisingly opposed. It was not, 
however, until the beginning of the fifteenth century that this superstition 
spread from the East into Europe. At this epoch, the Bohemians, who had 
arrived from the remote regions of Asia (see the volume on " Manners and 
Customs," chapter on Bohemians), brought with them the ancient traditions 
of chiromancy, and propagated them rapidly in all countries which they 
traversed. Inquiring minds set themselves to study this new science of 
divination as soon as it made its appearance. Some of them reproduced, in 
special treatises with designs and illustrations appended, the types of hands 
scored with lines or signs favourable or the reverse ; others investigated the 
direct relation between the various parts of the human hand and the celestial 
constellations. Both had discovered and defined various types of hands : 
Eumphilius declared there were six types, Compotus eight, and Indaginus 
thirty- seven, while Corvseus placed the number of different types at a 
hundred and fifty ; but Jean Belot, the cure of Milmonts, afterwards reduced 
the total to four. There was a long discussion as to whether the right or the 
left hand was the one from which the horoscope should be drawn. There 
was an equal difference of opinion as to the meaning of the lines and 
irregularities of the hand, though it had been subjected to the astrological 


divisions and subdivisions into which entered the virtues and influences of 
the planets (Fig 156). Even the colour of the nails and the white spots 
which are often seen upon them were assigned a special meaning by the 
exponents of chiromancy, which thus became a very complicated and almost 
a mathematical science. 

In addition to chiromancy, the Middle Ages witnessed the adoption of 
several modes of divination in use amongst the ancients, and of the revival, 
in a new shape, of others which were referred to in the books of Greek and 
Roman antiquity. As in ancient times, there was Aeromancy (the art of divin- 
ing by the phenomena of the air), Hydromancy, Pyromancy, and Geomancy 

Fig. 156. Specimen of the Left Hand, with the Lines and their Horoacopic Denominations. 

(divining by means of water, fire, and earth). History has often alluded to the 
fantastic images which the credulity of our ancestors fancied they could see 
in the heavens when a meteor or the northern light was visible (Figs. 157 
to 160). These were looked upon as sinister or favourable presages, 
according to their character. They also used pitchers filled with water, into 
which were plunged metallic blades marked with certain tokens, and which, 
as the water boiled, emitted sounds that the operator comprehended and 
explained to his listeners. Dactylomancy (from the Greek word Saim/Xos, 
finger) was practised by means of a ring, in many cases made under the 
influence of a certain constellation. This ring was suspended by a thread 


in the centre of an earthenware or metal pitcher, against the sides of which, 
swinging to and fro, it struck, emitting a number of sounds which were 
taken to be predictions and oracles. Pyromancy, or the art of divination by 
fire, varied according to the substances consumed, the smoke of which 
announced, by its density and colour, what was to be expected of the future. 
Thus, when a donkey's head was roasted upon live coal, the rotary move- 
ment of the fetid vapours emanating from it had a prophetic signification. 
Geomancy, which served to establish a correspondence between material 
beings and the elementary spirits, was connected with the sternest combina- 
tions of cabalism. 

Other processes, which seemed to have a religious character, but which 
the Church none the less condemned as dangerous superstitions, were also 
resorted to in the Middle Ages in order to forecast the future. The Angelic 
Art, which consisted in an invocation of the guardian angel, and the 
Notorious Art, which addressed itself directly to God, in order to obtain 
immediate information as to the future, did not consist of a body of 
doctrines, but merely of a few prayers and secret ceremonies, by virtue of 
which the operator believed that he could obtain the Divine Presence. To 
St. Jerome was actually attributed the authorship of two books in which were 
indicated the practices of the Notorious Art and of the Angelic Art. Other 
prophetic books, to which a not less marked importance was attributed, became 
popular, so generally were they read, towards the close of the fifteenth century. 
One, entitled "Enchiridion Leonis Papse" ("The Manual of Pope Leo"), the 
other, "Mirabilis Liber," attributed to St. Csesarius, contained nothing to 
justify these singular pretensions. Moreover, to obtain what were called the 
spells of the saints, a text was taken from the Holy Scriptures and printed in the 
frontispiece of the book. Gregory of Tours, in his " History of the Franks," 
relates that he himself practised this kind of divination. In 577, Merovee, 
son of Chilperic, having taken refuge within the basilica of St. Martin at 
Tours, to escape the pursuit of his father and the vengeance of his step- 
mother, Fredegonde, entreated the holy bishop to tell him what he had 
to hope or to apprehend. The Bishop opened the Book of Solomon, and read 
this verse : " Let the eye which looks at its father be pecked out by the 
crow." This was a sinister omen. Merovee did not understand it, and 
was anxious to interrogate for himself the spells of the saints. He placed 
upon the tomb of St. Martin the Books of Psalms, of Kings, and the 


Gospels, and passed the iiiglit upon his knees before the tomb. After three 
days of fasting and prayer, he opened the holy books, and lighted only upon 

Figs. 157 to 160. Fantastic Forms aud Figures seen in the Sky in the Sixteenth Century. 
Fac-sin'.ile of Ancient Designs. 

passages which foreboded evil. He left the basilica in despair, and soon 
afterwards perished miserably. 

The origin of magic had been religious fervour carried to excess, for 

F F 


King Solomon was always looked upon by the adepts as the greatest of 

magicians. Hence came the name of Theurgy (from to', God), which, 

however, was in many cases much the same as Gocty (ydijs, enchanter), this 

latter having for its object the invocation of invisible powers, amongst them 

being several evil genii (Figs. 161 and 1G2). Henry Cornelius Agrippa, 

magician _as he was, or believed himself to be, defined the principle of 

theurgy as follows : " Our soul, purified and made divine, inflamed by the 

love of God, ennobled by hope, guided by faith, raised to the summit of 

human intelligence, attracts to itself the truth ; and in Divine-truth, in the 

mirror of eternity, it beholds the condition of things natural, supernatural, 

and heavenly, their essence, their causes, and the plenitude of sciences, 

understanding them all in an instant. Thus, when we are in this state of 

purity and elevation, we know the things which are above nature, and we 

understand everything that appertains to this lower world ; we know not 

only things' present and past, but we also receive continually the oracles of 

what will happen in the near and in the far future. This is how men 

devoted to God, and who practise the three theological virtues, are masters 

of the elements, ward off tempests, raise the winds, cause the clouds to drop 

rain, heal the sick, raise up the dead." So, according to this Prince of 

Magicians, as Cornelius Agrippa was sumamed, a magician ought, above all 

things, to have an ardent and unswerving belief in the assistance of God, 

in whose name he exercised his celestial or infernal art. 

Jesus Christ has said, " Have faith, and ye shall remove mountains." 
But magic was much earlier than the Christian era, for it is said to have 
originated with the magi of Chaldea, and to have received the name from 
them. The demoiiographers of the sixteenth century asserted that magic 
had never had any other object than the invocation of demons, and they 
ascribed the origin of it to Mercury or to Zabulon, who is supposed to be 
no other than Satan himself. This sinister science was said to have been 
inculcated and propagated during the life of Christ by one Bamabe Cypriot, 
who asserted that he drew his doctrines from books of magic, the authorship of 
which he ascribed to Adam, Abel, Enoch, and Abraham. These wonderful books, 
which the angel Raziel, the counsellor of Adam, and the angel llaphacl, 
the guide of Tobias, had communicated to men, were said to be in existence 
in Abyssinia, in the monastery of the Holy Cross, which was founded 
by Queen Shcba on her return from the visit which she paid to Solomon. 



It must not be supposed that the number of adepts to magic has CUT 
hem very great; the majority wore never more than mere theorists; that 
is to say, purely speculative savants, who studied in books the mysterious 
theory of the art of magic. Those who asserted that they put the art of 
into practice alone merited the name of magicians. But the common 

t'ig. 161. The Tiince of Darkness. After a Miniature of tho "Holy Grail. 1 ' Manuscript of 
the Fifteenth Century. National Library, Paris. 

people, always ready to discover the marvellous side of natural things 
(Fig. 162), and to place credence in the most mendacious illusions, invariably 
accused of magic the eminent men who had illustrated themselves by great 
scientific discoveries. Moreover, any alchemist who was supposed to be in 
possession of the great work was looked upon as a magician. Thus the 


famous Arab alchemist Gebcr, to whom the hermetic philosophers assigned 
the title of King, was believed to have obtained by magic the power of 
creating gold ; and his numerous works upon occult philosophy, translated 
into Latin, are said to have been studied by the monk Gerbert, who became 
pope, with the title of Sylvester II., in 999. Gerbert was a man of vast 
general learning and a genius, yet he was looked upon as no better than a 
magician, and even a sorcerer. It was said in the twelfth century that he 
had possessed a book of black magic, which gave him full power over the 
hierarchy of demons, and a brass idol which littered oracles for him ; and 
that, this was how he was able to discover treasures even if they were buried 
in the centre of the earth. Upon the day of his death (April 12th, 1003), 
however, Satan (Fig. 161) is supposed to have come to claim the debt which 
the. Pontiff had contracted, and the tradition ran that ever after, when a 
pope was at the point of death, the bones of Sylvester II. were heard to 
rattle in his- tomb. 

The accusation of magic, from which even the illustrious Gerbert did 
not escape, was also levelled during the thirteenth century at the two 
greatest men upon whom science has set the seal of genius, Albert of 
Bollstadt, called Albertus Magnus, and Roger Bacon. Both were suspected 
of holding communication with the demons, and the former, who had 
endeavoured to expound the Revelation of St. John (Fig. 163), was obliged 
to resign the bishopric of Cologne, and to shut himself up in a monastery, 
in order to impose silence upon his accusers ; while the second expiated in 
the dungeons of the Franciscans at Paris the daring of his experiments in 
chemistry, which were set down to the score of black magic. One of their 
contemporaries, the celebrated doctor, Peter of Albano, was burnt in effigy 
by the Inquisition, and died in prison at the age of eighty. Gabriel Naude 
says of him, " He had acquired the knowledge of the seven liberal arts, by 
means of the seven familiar spirits which he kept confined in a piece of 
crystal ; " and what was looked upon as an infallible sign of a pact with the 
devil, he had the faculty of summoning back to his purse the money he had 
paid out of it. 

Spain, Scotland, and England also possessed about the same period 
several men of science who were denounced as magicians. In Spain there 
was Picatrix, whose wonderful feats are attested by the evidence of Alfonso, 
King of Castile ; while Scotland possessed Thomas of Hersildonne, Lord 

////: OCCUL r .sv7/:.vr/:.v. 


Smilis, and the philosopher, Michael Scott, who finds his place in Dante's 
" Divine Comedy." Amongst tm> Knglish must be mentioned the terrible 
James Jodoc, who succeeded in " setting " the demon in a magic ring ; while 
all other German magicians are eclipsed by the legendary John Faust, who 
made a pact with the devil for twenty-four years, and who, at the end of 
that period, was carried down to hell by the demon Mephistophiles, whom he 
hud taken into his service. 

But most of these so-called magicians were men of true learning, who, 
after exploring the vast domain of science, lapsed into the study of the 
occult arts. They must not, therefore, be confounded with the sorcerers or 
enchanters, who paid dearly for their sinister celebrity, and who were 

Fig. 162. Dragons. After Miniatures in the " Book of the Marvels of the World." Manuscript 
of the Fourteenth Century. National Library, Paris. 

punished with death for their misdeeds. Amongst the latter were Jacques 
Dulot, who during the reign of Philippe le Bel killed himself in prison, 
after his wife had been burnt alive; Paviot, surnamed the Butcher, who 
perished at the stake, while his accomplice, Enguerrand de Marigny, was 
hung in chains at Montfaucon ; Jean de Bar, also condemned to the stake 
as a necromancer and an invoker of the devil, at the end of the fourteenth 
century ; and, most notable of all, the prototype of the legendary Bluebeard, 
the execrable Gilles de Laval, called Marshal de Raiz (or Retz), who, in 
concert with a Florentine sorcerer named Prelati, dabbled in necromancy 
and magic during his horrible debauches at his castles of Machecoul and 
Chantoce, in Brittany. 



The occult sciences had maintained their prestige up to the dawn of the 
Renaissance ; but they were cultivated at that period by men of genius, 
whose only aim was the love of science, and all of whom came to a miserable 
end, though they were vain enough to believe that they were in direct 
communication with spirits and demons. Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim, 
who was generally looked upon as an emissary of Satan, and who was merely 
a learned expounder of the doctrine of the ancient Gnostics, was always 

Fig. 163. The Angel, holding the Keys of Hell, enchains the Devil, in the shape of a Dragon, in 
the Pit. Miniature from a Commentary on the Apocalypse. Manuscript of the Twelfth 
Century. In the Library of M. Ambrose Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

accompanied, it was said, by two evil spirits in the shape of two black dogs. 
Paracelsus, who was believed to have imprisoned his familiar spirit in the 
pommel of his sword, boasted that he could create dwarfs, whom he animated 
with his archeus (or principle of heat) as a substitute for the soul, and yet 
he ended his days in a hospital. Cardan himself, that wonderful philosopher 
who had studied and dived deep into all branches of sciences, also claimed 

TIIK OCCULT SCf/:'.\C/:s. 

to possess a mpgniatural and invisible counsellor, whom he hud brought from 
the planets of Venus and of Mercury, and whom he employed in his opera- 
tions of astrology and magic. When this mysterious accomplice suddenly 
deserted him he died of hunger. These great worshippers of science were 
given to dabbling in sorcery and magic, but they did not turn their supposed 
intercourse with the beings of the invisible world to an evil purpose. 

All the demouographers are agreed \\\*n\ this point that to obtain the 
intervention of Satan in human affairs it was necessary to form a pact with 
him (Fig. .104). " The pact which the magicians make with the demon," says 
Martin del Rio in his " Disquisitiones Magic;e," "is the only base upon 
which all operations of magic stand, so that whenever the magician wishes to 
do something appertaining to his art, he is expressly, or at all events impli- 

Fig. 164. The Devil, attempting to seize a Alugiciun who had formed a pact with him, is prevented 
by a Lay Brother. Fac-simile of a Miniature in the " Chroniques de Saint-Denis." Manu- 
script of the Thirteenth Century. In the National Library, Paris. 

citly, compelled to invoke the assistance of the demon." The pact was formed 
in three different ways: the first involved the performance of various solemni- 
ties or ceremonies, in the midst of which the demon appeared in bodily shape 
to receive the homage of the contracting party ; the second consisted in a 
simple request written and signed by the person who bound himself to the 
demon; the third, reserved for those who feared to face the demon, was 
accomplished b}' the intervention of a lieutenant or vicar, and was termed the 
tacit pact. All engagements entered into with the demon were based upon 
impious or wicked promises, which the contracting party had to fulfil under 
pain of immediate and violent death : these were denial of the Christian faith, 
contempt for the exercises of religion, iiisolrt'iiry nut/ bankruptcy to God's com- 



mauds, repudiation of all saintly personages, change of baptismal name, 
horrible blasphemies, bloody sacrifices, &c. 

The oath of fidelity, which it was necessary to take to the demon, was 
always pronounced in the midst of a circle traced upon the ground, accom- 
panied by the offer of some pledge, such, for instance, as a piece of the 

Fig. 165. From the smoke ascending out of the abyss are born scorpions which scourge men. 
Miniature from a Commentary upon the Apocalypse. Manuscript of the Twelfth Century. 
In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot. 

garments worn by the person taking it. These circles held an important 
place in all operations of magic, especially in evocations : there were generally 
three of them, and they were supposed to establish between the evoker and 
the spirits evoked by him a line of demarcation which the demon could not 
cross. Vervain, too, together with incense and lighted tapers, was almost 
always employed. In addition to incense, the magicians and sorcerers also 



employed a quantity of vegetable, mineral, and animal substances to create 
smoke, which was believed to act upon the demons, and even upon the 
influences of the stars (Fig. 165). It is evident that these fumigations, in 
which belladonna, opiates, &c., were employed, and which produced either 
giddiness or drowsiness, helped the magicians very much. 

The art of magic had regulated the use of perfumes for its professional cere- 
monies, in accordance with the opinion which held the smoke of odoriferous 
substances to be a mystic link between the earth and the stars. Thus every kind 
of smoke was addressed to some particular planet (Fig. 165). To the Sun 
was dedicated a mixture of saffron, amber, musk, clove, and incense, to which 
were added the brain of an eagle and the blood of a cock. The Moon received, 
by preference, the vapour of white poppy and camphor, burnt in the head of 
a frog, together with the eyes of a bull and the blood of a goose. To Mars 
was burnt sulphur, mixed with Various magic plants, such as hellebore and 
euphorbium, to which were added the blood of a black cat and the brain of a 
crow. It may easily be imagiped how nauseous was the odour of these 
horrible mixtures, which ascended in a spiral column of smoke varying in 
hue, and athwart which the lookers-on believed they could see fantastic 
shapes. Moreover, the most singular properties were attributed to various 
substances which were thrown upon live coals. In order to produce thunder 
and rain, all that was necessary was to burn the liver of a chameleon. This 
species of witchcraft was practised by a special class of sorcerers called 
tempest-raisers. As late as the sixteenth century James VI. of Scotland had 
Dr. Fian tortured in his presence, upon the accusation of having raised a 
storm in which that sovereign nearly lost his life. While the chameleon's 
liver raised a high sea, the gall of cuttle-fish, burnt with roses and aloe- 
wood, produced earthquakes. A legion of demons and phantoms might be 
raised by burning together coriander, parsley, and hemlock, adding to them a 
liquor extracted from black poppy, giant fennel, red sandal-wood, henbane, 
and other obnoxious plants. But with all these mixtures it was necessary to 
observe the laws of sympathy and antipathy which prevail amongst the per- 
fumes, as amongst the celestial bodies, in order to insure the success of the 

The same laws of sympathy and antipathy were to be carefully observed 
in the preparation of philters, administered for the purpose of inspiring 
hatred or affection (Fig. 166). These philters, which in ancient times were 

O G 



believed to have an irresistible effect, were generally composed of hetero- 
geneous substances, which the magicians pretended to be able to reduce to 
powder by means of various unholy incantations. The sorcerers sometimes 
went so far as to use the host, consecrated or not, upon which they traced 
letters written in blood. But they more generally employed substances 
derived from the three domains of nature, the entrails of animals, the feathers 
of birds, scales of fishes, and vegetable and mineral substances. Pulverized 
loadstone, the parings of nails, and the human blood served to compose their 

Fig. 166. Marriage of a Young Han and an Old "Woman. Fac-simile of an Engraving in the 
German Edition of the " Officia Ciceronis," 1542. In the Arsenal Library, Paris. 

powders, which were mixed with the food or the drink of persons upon whom 
these philters were desired to take effect. Some magicians still had recourse 
to hippomanes, which was much in favour with the Greek and Roman 
enchanters, and which was nothing more than the lump of flesh found on 
the head of colts when first foaled. The mandragora, which ancient naturalists 
have described as a very wonderful plant, was in still greater renown in 
the Middle Ages, and it was made to appear in all the most sinister opera- 
tions of the magicians. This plant, which grows in the shape of a human 


body, and belongs to the Solaneoo tribe, was said to have miraculous and 
Satanic properties, its origin being ascribed to a gruesome device of the 

Philters must not be confounded with the talismans which were in such 
great vogue during the Middle Ages, and which continued to be in repute 
until the end of the Renaissance. These talismans consisted of stones or 
metal plates, bearing astrological figures, and Arabic or Persian inscriptions ; 
they came, in most cases, from the Gnostics of the East, and were intended 
to place beneath the protection of the celestial powers the persons possessing 
them. Most of these talismans had been brought into Europe at the time of 
the Crusades. The sixteenth century witnessed the increase of astrological 
forms, attention to which would insure the accomplishment of all human 
desires. Thus, for instance, to those who wished to earn honours and to 
become great, it was enjoined, " Engrave the image of Jupiter, who is a 
man with a ram's head, upon tin or upon a white stone, at the day and hour 
of Jupiter, when he is at home, as in Sagittarius, or in the Pisces, or in his 
exaltation, as in Cancer, and let .him be free from all obstruction, principally 
from the evil looks of Saturn or of Mars ; let him be rapid, and not burnt 
by the sun ; in a word, wholly auspicious. Carry this image upon you, 
made as above, and according to all the above-mentioned conditions, and you 
will see things which will surpass your belief." These comparatively harm- 
less superstitions were covered by judicial astrology with the mantle of 

The magicians resorted to written incantations of a more mysterious 
character as an accompaniment to the gemahrz, or quaint stones upon which 
nature had put some distinctive mark ; to the magic phials containing the 
blood of owls and of bats ; to the hand of glory, which was no other than 
the withered hand of a man who had been hung, for discovering hidden 
treasure ; to the magic mirrors, in which were reflected the images of the 
dead and of the absent ; and to the well-known shirt of necessity, made of 
flax spun by the hands of a virgin, sown during a night in Christmas week, 
and representing upon the front the heads of two bearded men with the 
crown of Beelzebub. This shirt was said to render the wearer invulnerable. 

One of the most dreaded processes of magic was that of bewitching, the 
object of which was to compass the death by slow degrees of a person who 
could not be murdered outright. The first step in this process was to model 


in clay or in virgin wax an effigy of the intended victim, and the next to 
kill a swallow, the heart of which was placed under the right arm of the 
effigy, and the liver under the left. Then the sacrilegious operation began ; 
the body and limbs of the wax or clay figure were pricked with new needles, 
to the accompaniment of the most horrible imprecations. During the trial 
of the ill-fated Enguerrand de Marigny, Prime Minister of Philippe le Bel, a 
magician was brought before the tribunal to declare that he had, at the 
minister's request, bewitched the King by pricking the magic image which 
represented him with a needle. The bewitchers had recourse to other 
processes. In some cases the figure was of bronze, and more or less deformed ; 
it was concealed in a tomb, and left to rust, the rust coinciding with the 
leprosy which attacked the person bewitched. In other cases the figure was 
of wax, and was made to melt before a fire of wood and vervain, the progress 
of the bewitched person to death keeping pace with the melting of his 
image. In other cases, again, the effigy was made out of earth taken from 
a graveyard and mixed with dead bones : an inscription in mystic characters 
completed the bewitchment, and caused the death of the victim within a 
short time. 

Amongst the numerous trials which revealed details of this crime, the 
most celebrated was that of the Duchess of Gloucester, who was accused of 
having bewitched King Henry VI. She had instructed a necromancer, a 
priest named Bolingbroke, with the execution of this act of magic, in 
concert with a well-known sorceress, one Marie Gardemain, Satan being 
invoked under the name of MilFouvrier. The wax figure of the King was 
found half melted in front of a fire of dry plants which had been gathered 
in a cemetery by moonlight. The crime being proved, the necromancer was 
hung, the sorceress burnt, and the Duchess of Gloucester condemned to 
imprisonment for life. The most notorious bewitchers of the fourteenth 
century were Paviot and Robert. In the sixteenth century the Italian 
astrologer, Cosmo Ruggieri, would have been compromised in many such 
cases but for the protection of Catherine de' Medicis ; and it was always 
believed by the public that the illness to which Charles IX. succumbed eight 
months after the massacre of St. Bartholomew was caused by bewitchment. 

Another piece of withcraft, not less formidable, and very easy to practise, 
was that of chcvillemeni (peg or nail driving), which was also supposed to 
have a fatal influence upon the person whose death it was sought to compass. 



A nail or a wooden peg was driven into a wall, the name of the intended 
victim being pronounced at each blow of the hammer. The sorcerers of 

Fig. 167. The Alchemist. After an Engraving by Vriese. In the Cabinet of Designi, 

National Library, Paris. 

the Middle Ages had other devices for killing people from a distance. 
Thus, for instance, the archers, or sagitiarii, launched into the air a sharp- 



pointed arrow, which the demon directed towards a given goal, and rendered 
invisible. This arrow pierced the heart of the victim at a distance of even 
seven or eight hundred miles. In the fifteenth century one of these sagittarii, 
named Pumbert, shot three of these arrows every day, never failing to hit 
his mark ; and his sole object was to make himself agreeable to the devil, 
who indicated to him the various victims. The inhabitants of Lauterburg, 
in .Prussia, stirred to indignation by his proceedings, eventually fell upon 
him and murdered him. The device of the sagittarii came from the North, 
where the inhabitants of Finland and Lapland got rid of their enemies by 
means of little leaden arrows, which they drew at a venture, to the 
accompaniment of magic phrases. These arrows went straight to the mark, 
and left an invisible wound, which invariably proved fatal at the end of 
three days. 

The Middle Ages' also recognised the existence of certain magical agents, 
corporeal and incorporeal, due to the influence of the demon or of familial- 
spirits. Such was the evil eye, a device known from the earliest ages, but 
inaccurately defined by the demonographers, who do not in all cases attribute 
its origin to the action of the infernal powers. Nor were the hermetic 
philosophers agreed as to the nature of the archeus, the architect spirit which 
labours without ceasing in the cavities of the human body, and which 
Paracelsus looked upon as one of the active forces of the mind. The most 
learned men of science, such as David of Planis-Campi and Ambroise Pare, 
were also believers in the constellated ascendant, which participated in all the 
combinations of the occult sciences, and which manifested itself sometimes as 
a demon, sometimes as a good angel. According to the learned Ambroise 
Pare, the astral influence was that which presided at the birth of each 
individual. These incorporeal agents were therefore supposed to take part 
in all the acts of the occult sciences, and especially in alchemy, in the 
practice of which its adepts were incessantly calling to their aid the 
elementary spirits of the metals, and the evil genii which were invoked 
in nearly all of the incantations (Fig. 167). These genii and spirits, whether 
good or evil, are mentioned by name in many of the curious formula) used in 
the making of seals (sigilla) or magic rings which had a power over demons, 
preserving the wearers from sudden death, protecting them from illness, and 
from danger by land or sea, and procuring for them as much money as they 
required. The Sicur de Villamoiit relates, in his " Voyages en Orient," that 



lie met at Venice, in 1570, a Cypriot gentleman named Antoine Bragadin, 
who kept up a princely establishment, and who, by means of his diabolic art, 
was able to supply the Venetian Senate with five hundred thousand crowns 
which he had manufactured. This same Bragadin unfortunately went to 
Bavaria, where he was condemned to the stake ; he obtained, however, by 
payment of a large sum and by confessing his crimes, the privilege of being 
beheaded upon a scaffold hung with black, and surmounted by a gibbet 
covered with copper plates, " which," says a writer of that period, " were 
typical of the deceptions practised by this coiner of gold." 

Fig. 168. Old-maid Witch. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving attributed to Holbein, taken from 
the German Translation of Botthius's " Consolations of Philosophy," Augsburg Edition, 1537, 
in folio. 

Most of the hermetic philosophers, whether magicians or not, claimed to 
be in possession of the secrets of the Cabal, which was not, however, identical 
with the great Jewish Cabal communicated to Adam, according to the rabbis, 
by the angels after his expulsion from Paradise, and appropriated by the 
Kastrni philosophers in the early ages of Christianity. It was at first a 
wholly speculative science, which assumed to fathom the secrets of the crea- 
tion and of the Divine Xature, while the hermetists and magicians merely 
recognised in the Cabal, as understood by them, the art of causing certain 


higher powers to act upon the lower world, and so to produce supernatural 
effects. The main point, therefore, was to discover the names of these 
superior powers, and reduce them by evocations to a state of passive obedience. 
This magic Cabal consisted in evocations destined to place man in communica- 
tion with the invisible intelligences of heaven and earth. According to the 
belief of the cabalists of the Middle Ages, Ariel, the genius of the sublunary 
world, had beneath his orders the Princes Damalech, Taynor, and Sayanon ; 
the latter commanded the secondary spirits, the most powerful of whom were 
Guabarel, Torquaret, and Rabianica. Nanael was the genius of the divine, 
Jerathel of the terrestrial, and Mikael of the political sciences, while Jeliel 
presided over the animal kingdom. The other genii, each one of whom had 
its attributions in the mysterious government of earthly things, formed an 
innumerable hierarchy of invisible beings, whom the cabalists of the sixteenth 
century did not scruple to pass in review, designating each by its name as 
well as by its distinctive quality. Cornelius Agrippa, for instance, boasted 
that he had registered in his catalogue the names of six thousand intelligences, 
genii, or spirits, belonging to a great number of categories, and all of which 
might be evoked by the adepts of the divine art. 

The occult sciences had in this way brought within their domain most of 
the fantastic beings who had been known to popular superstition from the 
earliest periods under so many names, and as possessing so many different 
attributions. The fairies were long supreme in the country districts, where 
they were said often to appear to men without being compelled by magic to 
emerge from their normal and invisible existence. They were called facas 
in the South of France, korrigans in Brittany, filaniUercs and bonnes dames in 
the Saintonge and Picardy, banshees in Ireland and Scotland, nor/ion in the 
Northern countries. They were a mixture of human and of divine nature ; 
they were enchantresses or magicians, presiding over the destiny of mortals, 
sometimes old, sometimes young, beautiful 'or ugly ; they inhabited solitary 
caves or the snowy peaks of the mountains, or limpid sources or aerial 
spheres. They were not in much request amongst magicians, who left them 
to the fancies of poets and novelists. The mysterious beings whom magicians 
more readily called to their aid were the intermediary spirits who belonged 
rather to the great family of demons. Amongst these may be mentioned the 
estries, or demons of darkness, who hugged to suffocation the people whom 
they met at night ; the goblins, who made their presence felt by harmless 


antics ; the folkts, who led the traveller astray by false lights; the Ittitom, or 
lufins ; and the metallic spirits, in whom it is easy to recognise the emana- 
tions of inflammable gas which produce so many sudden explosions in the 
mines, and which are known as fire-damp. 

Demons, too, were the men-wolves and men-dogs, which were very 
similar to the ogres, or ouigoitrs, which really existed in the Mongolian hordes, 
and whose terrible aspect caused them to be the terror of the populations. 

The loups-garoiis (Fig. 169), men whom a pact with the devil compelled 
to assume the face of a wolf once a year, scoured the woods and fields, 

Fig. 169. The Han-dog, the Man-wolf, the Man-bull, and the Man-pig. After the Miniatures 
in the " Livre des Merveilles du Monde." Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century. In the 
National Library, Paris. 

devouring the young children : like the vampires in Poland, the broucofaqucs 
in Greece, and the white men in Provence, they thirsted after human blood. 
Occult philosophy recognised, in addition, the existence of many other spirits 
of a more inoffensive kind, whom it comprised under the generic name of 
elementary spirits, because they inhabited the four elements: sylphs, in the 
air ; talamtaukn, in the fire ; gnomes, in the earth ; ondins, in the waters. 

All the beings of the invisible world were subject to the influence or 
domination of magic, which always proceeded, though in different degrees, 
from the works of the demon ; but in the Middle Ages there were various 
sectaries of this infernal art. The enchanters, the charmers (male or female), 

H H 


merely, made use of magic words or verses for their charms or enchant- 
ments ; the ' necromancers and magicians added to their incantations a whole 
ritual of dark and sinister ceremonies ; the sorcerers and the sorceresses, stri/yes 
and faiturieres, did not hesitate to resort to the most abominable practices 
in order to get into direct communication with Satan. The characteristic 
difference between the acts of magic and of sorcery is precisely stated in 
the following passage from a theological work by Cardinal de Richelieu : 
" Magic is an art of producing effects by the power of the devil ; there is 
this difference between magic and sorcery, that the principal aim of magic 
is ostentation, and that of sorcery mischief." This definition will explain 
how it was that the sorcerers and sorceresses were proceeded against and 
punished in the sixteenth century with more severity than the necro- 
mancers and magicians had been in the Middle Ages. The enchanters 
and charmers were only proceeded against for any specific injuries they 
might have caused, and the astrologers who confined themselves to the 
astrological art had nothing to fear in the shape of legal repression, 
though they were liable to the censures and anathemas of the ecclesiastical 

It was not until the fifteenth century that sorcerers and sorceresses began 
to attend the Sabbath, which henceforward became the council of sorcery 
and the supreme court of the demon. There is a difference of opinion as to 
the true origin of the name and of the thing itself. There were nocturnal 
meetings of the sorceresses among all the early peoples, but these were not 
the Sabbath, which, when first instituted, was essentially of an obscene and 
impious character, obnoxious alike to human and Divine laws. The starting- 
point of the Sabbath was, perhaps, what was termed, in the twelfth century, 
the messe cles Vaudois, a denomination afterwards transformed into mezcle drs 
Vaudois. This messe was originally a secret meeting of the Vaudois proselytes 
of the heretic Pierre Valdo in the mountains of Dauphiny. It was said that 
the Vaudois met in this way to assist at magic ceremonies, the object of 
which was to destroy the crops and disturb the elements, "and that they were 
accompanied by devilish feasts and infernal dances, with unintelligible incan- 
tations, resembling those of the Jews at their synagogue meetings on the day 
of the Sabbath. These mysterious assemblies continued to be held in the 
dark, but their aspect and purpose changed when vaulderie became synony- 
mous with sorcery, and the heretics had made way for the sorcerers. Hence- 


forward the Sabbath was merely the trysting-place of sorcerers and sorceresses 
who assembled from all quarters, traversing space with the rapidity of 
lightning, some mounted upon animals of fantastic shape, or hoisted upon 
the shoulders of demons, others bestriding the magic broomstick (Fig. 170)- 
It was here that Satan held his assizes, and received the impure homage of 
his subjects, distributing to novices the mark and sign of the infernal 
initiation. De Lancre, in his "Treatise upon the Inconstancy of the 
Demons," says, " The devil, at the Sabbath, is seated in a black chuir, with 
a crown of black horns, two horns in his neck, and one in the forehead, which 
sheds light upon the assembly, the hair bristling, the face pale and exhibiting 
signs of uneasiness, the eyes round, large, fully opened, inflamed, and hideous, 
with a goat's beard, the neck and the rest of the body deformed, the body of 
the shape of a man and a goat, the hands and the feet of a human being." 

The horrors and sacrileges committed at the Sabbath were no merely 
imaginary crimes ; the sorcerers could not impute their misdeeds to credulity 
or ignorance, and M. Ferdinand Denis says, " All that the wildest imagina- 
tion can conceive, mythological recollections, fantastic traditions, terrible 
traditions, form the compound of the court of Satan. Diseased minds 
invent new crimes, and the strident laugh of the devil encourages the 
commission of a thousand nameless sins. Beelzebub himself ceases to put 
on the image of a foul goat." Thus the faggots of the stake burnt through- 
out the whole of the sixteenth century, and all kinds of torture were 
applied, without distinction of age or sex, to persons accused of having 
assisted at the Sabbath and given themselves up to Satan. 


Superstitions derived from Paganism. Saturnalia of the Ancients. Festival of the Barbatorii. 
F< stival of the Deacons. The Liberty of December, or the Fools' Feast. Festival of the Ass. 
The Sens Ritual. Feast of the Innocents. The Moneys of the Innocents and the Fools. 
Brotherhood of the Mere Sottt.The Mere Folk of Dijon. The Seipent, or the Devil. 
Purgatory of St. Patrick. The Wandering Jew. The Antichrist and the End of the World. 
The Prophecies of the Sibyls, of Merlin, and of Nostradamus. Dreams and Visions. 
Spectres and Apparitions. Prodigies. Talismans. 

ACTANTIUS, in his book upon the "Divine 
Institution," says, " Religion is the worship 
of what is true, superstition of what is false." 
".All superstition is a great punishment and 
a very dangerous infamy for men," added 
St. Augustine. The Council of Paris, held in 
829, pronounced very energetically against 
"most pernicious evils, which are assuredly 
remnants of paganism, such as magic, judicial 

astrology, witchcraft, sorcery or poisoning, divination, charms, and 
the conjectures drawn from dreams." The Provincial Council, 
in 14G6, admitted with St. Thomas that superstition is an idolatry. The 
illustrious John Gerson had already declared that "superstition is a vice 
opposed in the extreme to worship and religion." At all periods the Church, 
by the organ of her doctors and her councils, waged war upon superstition, 
as the good labourer roots up the tares which threaten to choke the wheat- 
In some cases superstitious beliefs took the form of an exaggeration of faith 
and an excess of devotion, in which event there was something touching 
and respectable about them ; in others they were due to dcmonomania, and 
wore the expression of a culpable or absurd credulity. In other cases, 
again, they had their root in an erroneous or distorted tradition ; some- 


times, also, they were of a futile and uncertain character, or became a heresy 
against the' Church. In fact, everything in the physical world was made 
the pretext for superstition. 

The Middle Ages teemed with recollections of ancient mythology, and 
those who may be surprised that such should have been the case, considering 
the horror in which the religion of the Gospel held everything relating to 
the errors of paganism, may be reminded that the pagan religions, when 
they disappeared from off the face of the globe, left behind them a mass of 
popular prejudices profoundly rooted in men's minds. "We may cite, for 
instance, the address of St. Eloi, minister of King Dagobert, and Bishop of 
Noyon, to his clergy: "Above all, I beseech of you, do not observe any 
of the sacrilegious customs of the pagans ; do not consult the engravers of 
talismans, or the diviners, or the sorcerers, or the enchanters, for any cause, 
even for illness ; pay no heed to omens or to sneezing ; do not be influenced 

by the singing of birds when you hear them in your journeys Let 

no Christian pay heed ' to the day he leaves a house, or that upon which 

he returns to it Let not any one at the Feast of St. John celebrate 

the solstices by dances or diabolic incantations. Let no one seek to invoke 
the demons, such as Neptune, Pluto, Diana, Minerva, or the Evil Genius. 
.... Let no one observe the day of Jupiter (Thursday) as a day of rest. 
Let no Christian make vows in the temples, or by the side of fountains, or 

gardens, or stones, or trees Let no one perform lustrations, or 

enchantments upon herbs, or drive his flock through the hollow in a tree, or 

through a hole dug in the 1 ground Let no one utter loud cries when 

the moon wanes Let no man call the sun or moon his master." 

Thus spoke, in the seventh century, a pious prelate, who boldly attacked the 
superstitions of his time; and this episcopal exhortation readily explains, 
and even excuses, a number of strange or monstrous facts which, though of 
much more recent date, seem to form part of the annals of the grossest 

The Feasts of the Ass, of the Deacons, of the Kings, of the Buffoons, and 
of the Innocents, characteristic as they were of the Middle Ages, and very 
popular with the people at large, especially with the lower clergy, the 
students, the lawyers' clerks, and the youth of the period, deserve notice, 
not only because the recollection of them still survives in the local history 
of certain districts, but because they were the origin of French dramatic art. 


When Hcrodiun, Mac-robins, and Dionysius of Ilalicarnassus describe the 
Saturnalia and the Lupercalia of ancient Rome, they might have been 
describing these singular festivals of the Middle Ages, which Christianity was 
compelled to tolerate for a long time, as an inheritance which, though 
declining to accept, could not be shaken off in a moment. This is how it 
was that so late as the fifteenth century the feasts of Saturn, Pan, and 
other pagan divinities were, in spite of ecclesiastical censure, celebrated 

Fig. 171. The Procession of the Bcouf Gras. Slained Glass of the Sixteenth Century, ia the 
Church of Bar eur-Seine (Aube). 

under denominations which only served to disguise the persistence of the 

With the Romans the Feast of the Kalends, or of the Saturnalia, began 
in the middle of December, and continued until the third or the fifth day of 
January. As long as it lasted public and private business was suspended, 
and the whole time was spent in banquets, concerts, and masquerades. 
People exchanged presents very freely, and at the banquets slaves were 


proclaimed kings of the festival instead of their masters. This period of 
license was thought to be a reproduction of the reign of Saturn and of the 
Golden Age. Christianity, whose first followers were selected from the lower 
classes of society, was unwilling at first to deprive them of a popular festival 
which no longer possessed a religious significance, and the only change made 
was to divide the festival into several shorter ones of a day each. Hence 
arose certain pagan idolatries and reminiscences, to which the festivals of 
Christmas, of St. Stephen, of St. John the Evangelist, of the Innocents (from 
December 25th to 28th), of the Circumcision, and of the Epiphany, or of 
the Kings, gave rise. The Lupercalia, or the feasts of Pan, the god of the 
country, which the ancients celebrated in February, were also divided by the 
Christians into two series, the feasts of the Carnival (Fig. 171) and 
those of the month of May, which were generally restricted to the three 
Rogation days. The Church was at first indulgent towards these remnants 
of paganism, merely blaming the abuses which they engendered. The 
councils and doctors we're more severe, but the bishops in their dioceses, the 
priests in their parishes, and the abbots in their monasteries seemed afraid 
to oppose these superstitious habits, which still held such great sway. 

At first the Feast of the Kalends was called the Feast of the Barbatorii, the 
reason no doubt being that the actors in these saturnalia covered their faces 
with hideous beards, which in the language of the thirteenth century were 
called barboires. We do not possess any very accurate information concerning 
this festival earlier than the twelfth century ; but it was known to have been 
observed not only in cathedrals and parish churches, but in many monasteries 
and convents. It was invariably the cause of, and the excuse for, the most 
disgraceful excesses. 

The first liturgical work which, under the name of " Liberty of Decem- 
ber," describes the strange and indecent proceedings at the Feast of the 
Buffoons, bears date 1182, and shows that one of the main features in it 
was an inversion of the duties and rank of the clergy. As a proof of 
how thoroughly this profane usage had passed into custom, it may be 
mentioned that though the practice had been several times anathematized 
by the councils, and though several prelates and sovereigns had laboured 
hard to extirpate what a French king called " a detestable remnant of pagan 
idolatry, and of the worship of the infamous Janus," upon the day of the 
circumcision in 1444 the priests officiated in the churches, some dressed as 



women, some as buffoons (see Figs. 172 and 173), some as stage-players, 
others with their capes and chasubles turned inside out. They elected a 
bishop or archbishop of buffoons, attired him in the pontifical robes, and 
received his benediction, chanting an indecent parody of the matins. They 
danced in the choir, singing ribald songs, ate and drank upon the altar, 

172. Buffoon playing the Bagpipe. 
From the " Atlas des Monuments 
de la France," by Alex. Lenoir. 

Fig. 173. Buffoon holding the Bauble beneath his 
Arm. After a Miniature in a Manuscript of the 
Fifteenth Century. National Library, Paris. 

played dice on the pavement, burnt old leather and other foul matter in the 
censer, and incensed the celebrating priest with it, and after this mock mass 
they promenaded the streets mounted upon chariots, and vying with one 
another in grimaces and in insolent and impious remarks. 

The ecclesiastical censures and the royal prohibitions naturally remained 
dead letters at a time when, as Gerson tells us, there were preachers who 

i i 


declared from the pulpit that this festival was "welcome in the sight of 
God," and when the clergy of Troyes met the remonstrances of King 
Charles VII. by saying that their bishop, Jean Leguise, had ordered them 
to celebrate the Feast of the Buffoons, which was also kept at Sens. 

This festival, which the Troyes clergy set great store by, was the same as 
the famous Mass of the Ass which existed, in different forms, in various towns 
of France, but the special ceremonial of which, drawn up expressly for the 
Church of Sens, is still to be read in a manuscript of the thirteenth century 
preserved in the library of that town. The rubrics, inserted in the text of 
the order of service, enable us to follow the whole proceedings of this 
mass, which was not celebrated, as has been alleged, in honour of Balaam's 
ass, but of the ass which was in the stable in which our Lord was born, 
or of that which He rode when He entered Jerusalem upon Palm Sunday. 
This singular festival did not, it may be added, cause any greater 
disorder than that of St. Hubert, when dogs and falcons were brought 
into the church to receive the priest's benediction, to the sound of horn 
and trumpet ; but there was no idea of profanity on the part of those who 
did this. 

The festival of the Ass was conducted in this wise. A comely animal 
having been selected, it was conducted in procession through the streets, 
which were strewn with carpets, and was met by the clergy, chanting, who 
accompanied it to the door of the church. Here they announced to the 
people, in Latin verse, " This is the day of gladness. Let those who are of 
doleful countenance get away from here. Away with envy and haughtiness ! 
Those who celebrate the Feast of the Ass desire to be joyful." The ass was led 
up to the altar, and then was sung that " Prose of the Ass " which, according 
to the evidence of a contemporary, given in verse at the commencement of 
the ritual, brought into relief the talents of the first chorister, and which, 
far from being a sacrilegious mockery, as the philosophers of the eighteenth 
century have insinuated, was a simple and pathetic manifestation of the faith 
and piety of our forefathers. Two of the Latin strophes, with the French 
chorus, run : 

" Orientibus parlibus, 
Adventavit Asinus, 
Pulcher et fortissimu.a, 
Saioinie aptissimus, 
He, sire Ane, he ! 


Hie in collibus Siclien, 
Kiu.ti itii-i ub Ruben, 
Transiit per Jordanem, 
Saliit in Bethleem. 
Ht, tire Ane, lit!" 

According to an old tradition, preserved at Sens, after the Hallelujah, 
which was sung several times during the service, all the congregation brayed 
in chorus in imitation of an ass. Then the choristers, from behind the altar, 
chanted two Leonine lines, proclaiming that this " is the most illustrious of 
all illustrious days, the greatest of all the festivals." Lastly, the chief pre- 
centor, who had used his voice to the utmost in chanting the " Prose of the 
Ass," was conducted in pomp to a well-spread table, where he and his 
acolytes were supplied with a bountiful meal. 

The Feast of the Ass, as stated above, was celebrated in several towns of 
France. Thus we learn by the registers of the Cathedral of Autun that from 
1411 to 1416, in the Feast of the Buffoons, an ass was led in procession, with a 
chasuble thrown over him, and 'to' the usual chorus of, "He, sire ane, h^ !" 
sung by lay clerks in masquerade. costume. The ceremonial at Beauvais was 
very similar to that at Sens, and it is clear that the refrain quoted in the 
preceding sentence was taken by the spectators as an invitation to bray in all 
tones. At the Feast of the Ass, as celebrated at Rouen, Balaam's ass was 
introduced into a show or review of personages taken from the Old and the 
New Testament, and composing a sort of mystery-play, interlarded with 
dialogues in doggerel Latin. 

Eudes de Sully, Bishop of Paris, towards the end of the twelfth century, 
was one of the prelates who tried the hardest to put down these saturnalia, 
and if his efforts were not crowned with immediate success, he set an example 
to other ecclesiastics to use their influence in the same direction. The ritual of 
the Feast of Buffoons, properly so called, has not come down to our own day, 
but we know that from the beginning of the fifteenth century it was only under 
the porch, in the churchyard, or upon the open space beyond that is to say, 
outside the church itself that these masquerades took place, and soon after- 
wards the festival was suppressed altogether. The clerks regarded this 
ancient tradition as one of their most cherished privileges, and were not 
easily induced to renounce it ; but while the kity, inheriting, so to speak, 
the Feast of the Buffoons, formed associations for getting up the mystery- 



T . 

timut fax-amf dpa(&ttiuf.T>i; Cirafnc 

cttwscntixf Wb tuJica 

" *' ._*i_^ JL!H * ^ >~V 



-U ^_J_^. 



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cmn fArcmtila 

/p- ~ 

c- lUvm arrfH 


Turtttftaifttttf dmenameatcctA 

Fig. 174." Prose of ihe Ass," plain. Fae-simile of the Page of the Ritual of Pierre de 
Corbeil. Manusciipt of the Thirteenth Century. Sens Library. 






v ^ - -fj o Jg Sf^^^r TJ rr7"_ 


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paoflgg-gjygq-QjSa^z 1 ,~ ^^=ro : 




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Hie in col-li bus Siclicn E-nu-tri-tussubRu-ben Tran-si-il per Jorda-ncra Sa-li-it in Ucthlc-rm Hczs ras nchci 

e- 1 J:5y -^ : ^ zl &&-* 

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* '"^^gyyfr &-; 

rg- - - 

=^P^5>=| 9 g H 
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Fig. 175. " Prose of the Ass," set to Music with Organ Accompaniment by M. Felix Clement. 


plays, the Church gradually withdrew its protection and tolerance of the 
excesses arising from the " Liberty of December." 

It is certain, however, that the election of a Pope of the Buffoons was 
discontinued before the suppression of the Feast of the Innocents, as the 
former was considered an insult to the Papacy previously to the election of a 
Bishop of the Innocents being looked upon as offensive to the episcopacy. 
It is also worthy of remark that these parodies of elections lasted longer and 
were more celebrated in the North than in the South. At Amiens, for 
instance, as late as 1548 there was not only a Pope of the Buffoons, but 
several Cardinals as well. This pope, elected by the subdeacons, received as the 
insignia of his dignity a gold ring, a silver tiara, and a seal. His enthrone- 
ment took place at a banquet paid for by the canons of the cathedral, upon 
the condition that the servitors of the mock pontiff should abstain from 
removing the bells from the tower and committing other such pleasantries. 
The Bishops of the Innocents, elected, consecrated, and acclaimed by the pre- 
centors and subordinate officials of the Church, had the right to wear the 
mitre, staff, and gloves at the ceremonies of the Buffoons ; they issued decrees 
and ordinances sealed with their seal, and also coined lead and even copper 
money bearing their name and motto. 

The learned hold that these pieces of money, which had much analogy 
with the sigilla, or seals, which the Romans offered as presents at the 
Saturnalia, were used as counters at games of chance, and so became sorts of 
passes or countermarks to be used at the processions, shows, and theatrical 
representations which the Bishop of the Innocents had the right to organize 
and have performed by his adherents. These moneys, great quantities of 
which have been discovered, especially in Picardy, which seems to have been 
the mother country of the Innocents, are in many cases similar, with regard 
to the effigy and inscriptions, to the royal and baronial coinage of the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In addition to the Latin inscription, $it 
nomen Domini benedidum, they often bear various French inscriptions, sxich as, 
Monnoie de Fercsque Innocent, or nondescript mottoes, such as, Vow royez le 
temps qu'il est ! Guerre cause maintz helas (griefs) Bcne rircrc d Icetari, &c. 

The popes and patriarchs of the Buffoons also coined money, but all the 
pieces which have been preserved are distinguished by two principal charac- 
teristics. One of them represents a double head of a cardinal and a buffoon, 
with the inscription, Stulti aliquando sapientcs. 


2 47 

We cannot attempt to give even a summary description of the extrava- 
gances to which the celebration of the festival of the Buffoons, orof the Innocents, 
gave rise in the various localities where they were carried on. At Noyon, 
Senlis, Corbie, Rheims, Toul, Bayeux, Rouen, Vienne in Dauphiny, Viviers 
in Provence, &c., the reign of Folly was annually proclaimed, and lasted a 
more or less considerable period. The processions, the cavalcades, the 
mummeries, the parodies of the most solemn actions, and of the most staid 
personages, made up this popular festival, which, when it had been excluded 

L,e Monde eft-pleinJeTous, ct tjui nen.veutpouavou> 
I>oit Jemciirer tout feul, ct cafler fon. miroir. 

Fig. 176. Chariot of the Mire Folk, which figured at Dijon in 1610. Fac-simile of Design 
communicated by M. Euggieri. 

from the sanctuary, was kept up amidst debauchery and riot in the highways. 
At that period each town had its own special procession or show : that of the 
Spinet at Lille; of the Mere Folk at Dijon; of the Prince of Love at 
Touruay ; of the Prince of Youth at Soissons ; of the Caritats at Beziers ; 
and they were all imitations of the Feast of Buffoons, foreshadowing, so to 
speak, the coming of the theatre, for these processions were accompanied 
by scenes enacted in dumb-show, or with the accompaniment of dialogue, 


comic and serious, which became mysteries and farces when they had been set 
to rhyme by a poet. (See below, chapter on the Theatre.) 

There was a general effort made, moreover, to form private societies for 
preserving and perpetuating the traditions of the Feast of Buffoons. The 
brothers of the Passion, whom Charles VI. allowed to settle in Paris (1402), 
and to represent the mysteries in a room at the Trinity Hospital, were, in the 
origin, members of the Church and pious persons who were desirous of letting 
, religion benefit by the unbridled passion for spectacles and masquerades 
which the Feast of the Buffoons had spread amongst the clergy and the 
population. At first the ecclesiastical authorities encouraged these plays, as 
being more edifying than those of the Pope of the Buffoons and the Bishop of 
the Innocents. The lawyers, advocates, procureurs, and clerks of the Basoche, 
who remembered the good times of the " Liberty of December," resolved to 
offer an asylum to the Folic, when it was condemned by and banished from 
the Church. They created the kingdom of Sots and the empire of Fools, 
electing a prince, whom they crowned with a green cap with donkey's ears, 
under the name of the Mere Sotte. The principal object of this new institu- 
tion was the representation of farces or satires upon the people in authority. 

Amongst the provincial societies which carried on the traditions of the 
Feast of the Buffoons must be mentioned, first of all, that of the Mere Folk de 
Dijon (see Fig. 176), which Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, himself 
founded in 1454, for the sole purpose of putting an end to the scandalous 
orgies which took place in the churches at the festivals of Christmas, 
Epiphany, and Rogation Sundays. This society, the practices of which were 
in complete harmony with the customs of that wine-growing country, con- 
sisted of more than five hundred persons of all ranks, and they were divided 
into two parties, one of infantry (see Fig. 177), the other of cavalry, all of 
whom wore the fool's cap and liveries ; that is to say, costumes which were a 
motley mixture of yellow, red, or green. The leader of the band, named 
Mere Folk, passed reviews of his army, presided over a mock tribunal, and 
pronounced mock judgments, which his procurator-fiscal green undertook to put 
into execution. These trials and pleadings, cavalcades and solemn assemblies, 
brought into relief all the types and attributes of Folly, which have disap- 
peared without leaving the world any wiser ; but the ancient Feast of the 
Buffoons, when driven from under the vaulted roof of the temple, continued 
to inspire songs and farces which betokened the birth of some comedy, 



while the clergy inaugurated the serious drama by histories taken from the 
sacred books and the legends of the saints. The mystery-plays and farces 
were, therefore, so much to the credit of the Feast of Buffoons, but there is 
an interval of three or four centuries between the " Prose of the Ass " and 

Fig. 177. Staff of the Dijon Infantry in 1482. Fac-uimile of a Design communicated by 

M. Bnggieri. 

the scenic compositions of Jean Michel, of Andre de la Vigne, and of Peter 
Gringoire. (See below, chapter on the Theatre.) 

Many instances might be given of popular errors which had their source 
in the traditions of antiquity, and which maintained the ideas of paganism 

K K 

2 S 


amidst the most holy and solemn of beliefs; but, at the same time, these 
errors would not have been sustained had not the credulity of the men of 
learning helped to propagate them by the creation of a world of fantastic 
beings (see Fig. 178). Thus, for instance, when Peter the Eater, called 
Comestor, a famous theologian of the twelfth century, in his paraphrase of the 
Scriptures, arrived at the fourth chapter of Genesis, where Moses speaks of 
the giants born to the sons of God and the daughters of men, he takes care 

Fig. 178. The Serpent, or the Dragon, and the Behemoth, or the Devil. Miniature from a 
Commentary on the Apocalypse. Manuscript of Ihe Twelfth Century. In the Library ot 
M. Ainbroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

to state that these giants are of the family of Enceladus and Briareus. The 
deluge of Deucalion and Pyrrha was borrowed from to furnish certain 
dramatic incidents in the Deluge of the Bible ; the serpent Python and the 
monsters bred from the slime of the earth (Figs. 179 to 182), in the Greek 
theogony, were imported into the glossology which the rabbis, those grand 
masters of superstition, were continually introducing into the elastic frame- 
work of the Talmud. The Christians were careful not to abandon the 


emblt 'inatie representation of these monsters, which soon became, in the eyes 
of tlie people, the multiform personification of the spirit of evil. 

There are numerous legends in which the serpent is vanquished by the 
great champions of the faith. In Phoenicia we find St. George slaying the 
dragon which was about to devour the daughter of the king of that country ; 
St. ilichael and St. Germain arming themselves with the cross to drive out 

Figs. 179 to 182. Monsters born from the Deluge. After the Wood Engravings in the 
"Chronique de Nuremberg," printed in 1493, in folio. 

the winged serpents which were invading the land of Parisis; St. Remain 
binding with his stole the Gargouille of Rouen (see Fig. 183) ; St. Martha 
leading with a string the terrible Tarasque which had laid waste the 
neighbourhood of Tarascon. Thus the serpent took his place in emblazonry 
with the unicorn, the chiuucra, and other marvellous animals. He has his 
place in history under the designation of Melusine of Lusignan ; he has been 



the theme of the most wonderful travellers' tales, and is to be found from 
one end to the other of science, poetry, and art. 

It is the serpent, or, to speak more accurately, the devil, to whom is 
attributed the birth of the grotesque and hideous monsters which descended 
in a natural order of succession from the giants, pigmies, Cyclops, satyrs, 
centaurs, harpies, tritons, and sirens of mythology (Fig. 191). The fathers 
of the Church did not venture to call into question the existence of these 
monsters, whom Pliny and the ancient naturalists complacently admitted into 
the hierarchy of living things ; and the people were all the more ready to 

Fig. 183. The Gargouille. From the Stained-glass Window representing the " Life of 
St. Remain," in the St. Romain Chapel, Rouen Cathedral. 

accept them as realities, because they attributed their existence to the power 
of the demon. 

It is astonishing that none of those who lived in the Middle Ages, with 
the exception of a few heroes of legends, claimed to have discovered the 
earthly Paradise, though learned writers tried hard to define its precise 
geographical position. If some one of the travellers of the twelfth or of the 
thirteenth century, such as Benjamin de Tudele, Jean Piano Carpini, or 
Marco Polo, had put forward such a claim, it would assuredly have been 
admitted, inasmuch as many of the Christians of that period, so fertile in 


wonders, did not hesitate to believe that access could be gained to purgatory, 
and that Paradise could be seen from afar, without leaving the world of the 
living. Sorcerers alone were believed to have the power of descending into 
hell. The entrance into purgatory, whither certain persons claimed to have 
made their way and to have returned from, was believed to be in Ireland, 
in an island of Lake Derg. This purgatory, according to the legend, had 
been discovered by St. Patrick (Fig. 184), guided by Jesus Christ himself, 
who was said to have left him for a day and night in this " very obscure pit," 
on emerging from which the saint found himself " purged from all his 
former sins," in gratitude for which he at once built, close to the pit, a 
handsome church and a monastery of the order of St. Augustine. After his 

Fig. 184. The Purgatory of Monsignor St. Patrick. Miniature of a Manuscript of the Fourteenth 
Century (No. 6,326). In the National Library, Paris. 

death the people came there in pilgrimage : a few rash persons attempted to 
enter the pit, but they never reappeared. There was one more report 
brought from purgatory by an English knight named Owen, who, loaded 
with sins, determined to try the experiment of St. Patrick (Fig. 185), and 
who was fortunate enough to behold again the rays of the sun, after having 
arrived at the gate of hell, and seen from afar the heavenly Jerusalem. The 
story which he told of the strange and wonderful things he had seen in 
the company of the devils, who refrained from harming him because he 
incessantly invoked the name of the Saviour, was implicitly believed, and 
generally referred to throughout the Middle Ages. The monks who kept 



watch over St. Patrick's gap showed the doorway of it to the pilgrims who 
were attracted to Ireland by motives of piety or curiosity, but the aperture 
remained impenetrably closed. Notwithstanding, and though no one ventured 
to renew the experiment made by the Chevalier Owen, every nation took 
care that it was represented in the stories told of visits to the purgatory of 
St. Patrick, so firmly rooted was the belief in it throughout Europe. 

A not less famous superstition, Avhich dates from the same period, and 
which seems to have been brought from the East after the first Crusades, 
is that of the Wandering Jew, as the inhabitants of the country dubbed 
every beggar with a long white beard who trudged along the roads with 
eyes downcast, and without opening his lips. The story of this accursed 

Fig. 185. Owen, accompanied by Monka chanting the Litanies for the Dead, repairs to the 
Aperture of the Gap, and creeps into it. Miniature of a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century 
(No. 1,588). In the National Library, Paris. 

pilgrim was told for the first time to the monks of St. Albans in 1228 by 
an Armenian archbishop who had arrived from the Holy Land. Joseph 
Cartaphilus was doorkeeper at the practorium of Pontius Pilate when Jesus 
was led away by the Jews to be crucified. As Jesus halted upon the threshold 
of the pratorium, Cartaphilus struck him in the loins and said, " Move faster ; 
why do you stop here?" Jesus, turning round to him, said with a severe 
look, " I go, and you will await my coming." Cartaphilus, who was then 
thirty years old, and who since then always returned to that age when he 
had completed a hundred years, was always awaiting the coming of the 
Lord and the end of the world. He was supposed to be a man of great 
piety, of few words, often weeping, never smiling, and being content with 

POPULAR /?/,Y. 7/.V.V. 

(lie most frugal nourishment and the plainest garments. Moreover, he 
announced the final judgment of souls, and recommended his own to God. 
This simple story \vas \\ell calculated to make an impression upon persons 

Fig. 186. The Tree of Life, or the Weeping-tree, planted in the States of Trester John. 
Fae-similo of a Wood Engraving of the Sixteenth Century. 

of pious mind, and some singular additions were made to it in Germany. 
Paul of Eitzcn, a German bishop, declared, in a letter to a friend, that he had 
met the Wandering Jew at Hamburg in 15(54, and had a long conversation 


with him. His name was no longer Joseph or Cartaphilus, but Ahasuerus. 
He appeared to be fifty years of age ; his hair was long, and he went 
barefoot ; his dress consisted of very full breeches, a short petticoat 
coming to the knee, and a cloak descending to his heel. He was present 
at the Catholic sermon, notwithstanding his creed, and prostrated himself, 
with sighs and tears and beating of the breast, whenever the holy name of 
Jesus was pronounced. His speech was very edifying ; he could not hear 
an oath without bursting into tears, and when offered money would only 
accept a few sous. The story of his meeting our Lord, as related by Bishop 
Paul of Eitzen, differed from the original account so far as this, that he was 
standing in front of his house, with his wife and children, when he roughly 
entreated Jesus, who had halted to take breath while carrying his cross to 
Calvary. " I shall stop and be at rest," was the indignant reply of the King 
of the Jews, " but you will be ever on foot." After this decree he quitted 
his house and family, to do penitence by wandering over the world. He did 
not know what God intended to do with him, in compelling him to lead so 
long this miserable life. In the sixteenth century there was not a town or 
village but what claimed to have given hospitality to the unfortunate witness 
of Christ's passion ; and yet, whenever his appearance was announced in any 
place, it was believed to foreshadow great calamities. Thus the Wandering 
Jew was believed to have been seen at Beauvais, Noyon, and several towns 
in Picardy when Ravaillac assassinated Henry IV. 

Another superstition, not less popular than that of the Wandering Jew 
in the Middle Ages, may also perhaps be attributed to the same origin ; 
namely, the Prester John, a sort of pontiff-king, half Jew, half Christian, who 
for centuries had governed in India, or in Abyssinia, a vast empire in which 
the hand of God had collected more marvels than in the paradise of Mahomet 
(Fig. 186). It was an Armenian bishop, too, who brought to Europe the 
first story as to the fabulous personage, and many a traveller, chronicler, and 
poet capped it with still more wonderful details. In 1507 a letter (evidently 
written ironically by a partisan of the Reformation) was put into circulation, 
in which Prester John, who entitled himself, by the grace of God, the 
Almighty King of all the Christian kings, after making an orthodox profession of 
faith, invited Pope Julius II. and King Louis XII. to come and settle in his 
States, which he described as the most favoured upon the face of the earth. 
The descriptions which he gave of them were very tempting, and it is even 

>;,_,. is-. The Eeign of Antichrist. After an Engraving by Michael Volgemuth, in the " Liber 
Chronicarum," 1493, in folio. Cabinet of Engravings. National Library, Patis. 

I. I, 


said that the Kings of Portugal, Emanucl and John III., went so far as to 
scud several expeditions to India and Abyssinia, to see whether these wonders 
really existed. According to certain savants rather less credulous, the fiction 
of Prester John had its origin in the actual existence of a Nestorian leader, 
named Johannes Presbyter, who in the twelfth century founded a powerful 
empire in Tartary. 

It was by a natural transition that to the Wandering Jew and Prester John 
came to be attached the personality of the Antichrist who, since the year 
1000, had always been expected, and whose long-delayed appearance was to 
be a prelude to the end of the world. " At the end of a thousand years," 
said St. John, " Satan will leave his prison and seduce the peoples which are 
at the four corners of the earth." Basing their arguments upon this 
prophecy, which they interpreted the wrong way, several early theologians had 
announced that the millennium would mark the accomplishment of the times. 
When that date arrived the early Christians at once prepared to appear before 
God, renouncing all their property, which they gave to the churches and 
monasteries, and suspending as useless the cultivation of the land and all 
industrial and commercial pursuits. The year thousand, which was expected 
to be the last of the world, was marked by manys threatening signs in heaven 
and earth by eclipses,- comets, famine, and overflowing of rivers. A contem- 
porary writer has left us a terrible picture of the desolation which then 
prevailed throughout the entire West. The whole talk was of terrible miracles 
and unheard-of prodigies. Upon the eve of the day when the year thousand 
was on the point of completion, the whole population crowded to the 
churches, weeping and praying, waiting in dread expectation for the sound 
of the seven trumpets and the coming of the Antichrist (Fig. 187). But the 
sun rose as usual, none of the stars fell, and Nature's laws continued their 
course. Nevertheless, it was believed that this was only a short respite which 
God had granted to the world in order that sinners might be converted, and 
the days, weeks, and months were anxiously counted. It was not until many 
years afterwards that men's minds were reassured. Even after this the end 
of the world was from time to time announced and expected, and the coming 
of Antichrist was believed to be imminent, whenever civil or foreign warfare, 
famine, epidemics, or moral disorder in society seemed to call him to the 
earth. In 1600, more especially, it was rumoured that he had at length 
been born ; at Babylon, according to one report ; near Paris, according to 


another. A sorceress, put upon her trial, declared that she had held this 
diabolical infant upon her .knees at a Sabbath, and that he had claws instead 
of feet, wore no shoes, and could speak every language. 

Miireover, prophecies and presages, the ordinary accessories of all historic 
events of any importance, always had a great hold upon the popular imagina- 
tion, which was invariably ready to accept mysterious interpretations of the 
plainest and most trifling facts. Since the decadence of the false gods, 
the orators of the pagan temples were mute, but this was made up for by the 
prophecies attributed to the Sibyls, who continued to be held in honour by 

Fig. 168. The Token of Mace Bonhomme, Printer and Bookseller at Lyons. Taken from tl.e 
original Edition of the " Prophecies of Michael Nostradamus," 1555, octavo. 

the Christians, for it was firmly believed that they had predicted the birth 
of Christ. The prophecies of Merlin the Enchanter, a bard of the fifth 
century, were in special favour. 

The success of the prophecies of Michael Nostradamus surpassed that of 
all previous soothsayers. Catherine do' Medicis and her son Charles IX., 
more superstitious than the least enlightened of their subjects, contributed to 
their popularity by paying visits to this famous astrologer at the little town 
of Salon, in Provence, to which he had withdrawn. The courtiers naturally 


followed their example, and were also anxious to have their horoscopes 
taken. It was in the stars and the planets, in the revolutions of the sun and 
the moon, that Nostradamus claimed to be able to read the destinies of men 
and of nations. He composed, after his pretended astronomical observations, 
an unintelligible sort of conjuring book in rhymed verse, teeming with 
hybrid words and foreign names, and he made many additions to it up to the 
date of his death in 1556. The form of these prophecies (Fig. 188) made it 
very easy to find them applicable more or less clearly to all the events of 
history, and this sustained the reputation of the astrologer of Salon long 
after his death. 

But Nostradamus, in his collection of Sibylline oracles, dealt only with 
the fate of kings, princes, and nations, and he was succeeded by a number of 
less pretentious astrologers who prepared gencthliatics, or horoscopes, upon 
interrogation of the stars, for all those who came to them with money. These 
astrologers had for competitors the dicincrs, who made it their business to 
interpret visions and dreams, and who could trace back the origin of their 
profession to a very remote period. With all ancient peoples, and notably 
with the children of Israel, dreams were looked upon as anticipated reflections 
of the future, as divine or diabolical warnings, whether in disclosing without 
concealment or enigma the things which were destined to occur, or whether 
concealing beneath a sombre and mysterious veil the spectre of destiny. The 
Church did not, as a rule, do more than declare that dreams were two kinds 
sometimes sent by God, sometimes wrought by the demon. Thus, according 
to the writers of the period, there was no important event in the Middle Ages, 
or even subsequently to the Renaissance, which was not announced by a dream. 

The day before Henry II. was struck down by the blow of a lance during 
the tournament, Catherine de' Medicis, his wife, dreamt that she saw him 
lose one of his eyes. Three days before he fell beneath the knife of 
Jacques Clement, Henry III. dreamt that he saw the royal insignia 
stained with blood and trodden under foot by monks and people of the 
lower classes. A few days before he was murdered by Ravaillac, Henry IV. 
heard during the night his wife, Marie de' Medicis, say to herself, as she 
awoke, "Dreams are but falsehoods !" and when he asked her what she had 
dreamt, she replied, " That you were stabbed upon the steps of the Little 
Louvre ! " " Thank God it is but a dream," rejoined the King. 

The death of Henry IV., like that of Julius Caesar, was, moreover, pre- 



ceded and accompanied by presages of many kinds. From one end of France 
to the other, there were so many precursory signs of a great event that the 
people believed that the end of the world was at hand. At Paris the May- 
pole, planted in the courtyard of the Louvre, fell to the ground without being 
touched ; in the abbey church of St. Denis the stone which sealed the funeral 
vault of the Valois lifted itself from its place, and the statues upon the royal 
tombs shed tears. Henry IV. himself had gloomy presentiments, which 
doubtless arose from the great number of official warnings addressed to him 
on this subject. " You do not understand me," he said to the Due de Guise 
on the very morning of his death ; " when you have lost me, you will learn 

Fig. 189. Dream of Childeric. After a Miniature in the " Chronicles of St. Denis." Manuscript 

of the Fourteenth Century. In the National Library, Paris. 

to appreciate me, and that will not be long first." He often remarked that it 
had been predicted for him that he would die in a carriage and in his fiftieth 
year. After the murder numerous visions, evidently bearing upon this tragic 
event, were mentioned : at Douai, a priest, who was dying at the very hour 
the crime was committed, had three convulsions, and expired saying, " The 
greatest monarch in the world is being slain." In an abbey in Picardy a 
nun who was sick exclaimed at the moment of the assassination, " Pray God 
for the King, for he is being killed." 

Visions, which have often been confounded with dreams, do not occupy 


less place in history than the latter. They were so frequent in the Middle 
Ages that the gravest historians mention instances of them without making 
the slightest reservation. It is difficult to make a choice amongst so many 
visions combining the elements of terror and mystery, but two may be men- 
tioned which occurred in the first centuries of the French monarchy, and 
which are very celebrated. First that of King Childeric, who, the first night 
of his marriage, saw, under the form of various ferocious animals, the whole 
future of his race ; and secondly, that of a hermit in the island of Lipari, who, 
at the very hour of King Dagobert's death, witnessed in his sleep a deadly 
combat between the demon and various saints who were fighting for the pos- 
session of his soul " over one of the gratings of hell." The demons were 
vanquished, and the victors carried his soul up to heaven. 

In every page of the ancient chronicles are to be found visions and 
prodigies of a similar kind. There is no lack of phantoms and apparitions 
wherever the marvellous can be brought in ; and there is no fact, futile as 
it may seem, that is not thought to deserve some supernatural manifestation. 
As a general rule, a vision was looked upon as unlucky, and this, no doubt, 
is the origin of the tradition, according to which a spectre always appears 
to announce the death of the head or of some member of certain illustrious 
families. There is the legend of the fay Melusine (Fig. 190), which 
appeared, uttering loud cries, upon the donjon of the Chateau de Lusignan, 
in Poitou, whenever a Lusignan was about to die. But this legend is less 
terrible than that of the canons of Mersburg, in Saxony, for it was said that 
three weeks before the death of a canon a strange tumult arose at midnight 
in the choir of the cathedral, and a grim hand appeared, which struck with 
great force the stall of the canon who was condemned to die. The guardians 
of the church marked this stall with a piece of chalk, and the next day the 
canon, warned of his approaching end, prepared for death, while the chapter 
made every preparation for his obsequies. 

Visions were very often of a public character, and caused consternation 
throughout a whole town or kingdom. Pierre Boaistuau, Francois de 
Belleforest, and other simple-minded compilers of the sixteenth century, have 
collected in one volume these "Histoires Prodi gieuses," and still they are 
far from having exhausted the subject. Thus, to cite but one instance, after 
having predicted the numerous prodigies which announced the calamities 
of civil war, such as apparitions in the heavens of fiery dragons, of gigantic 


bulls, of pigs bearing royal crowns, of bloody stars, of multiform rainbows, 
accompanied by several moons and suns, they do not refer to the strange 
noise which was heard in the air, about the precincts of the Louvre, during 
the seven nights which followed the massacre of St. Bartholomew, a concert 
of cries, groans, and screams, mingled with furious imprecations and blas- 
phemies, as if the horror of the massacre was being renewed in the invisible 

Fig. 190. The Fay Helusine, Iiom whoso Flanks springs the Genealogical Tree of the House of 
Lusignan. After a Wood Engraving of the "Romance of Melusine," Augsburg, 1480, in 
quarto. In the Library of SI. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

world. It may be added that these visions were in many instances facts 
witnessed by thousands of people, such as the showers of blood, of stones, 
of wheat, and of frogs, ordinary and simple phenomena which were not at 
the time understood, and the natural origin of which, not having been 
ascertained by the learned, did not, of course, occur to the public. 

26 4 


We have said nothing as to many other popular superstitions, traces of 
which still exist, such as the use of magic talismans, amulets, rings, herbs, 
stones, and the hair of animals (see chapter on Occult Sciences), for an 
enumeration of them would merely serve to display the ignorance of our 
ancestors, over which it is better that we should draw a veil. 

Fig. 191. The Siren. Token of Gerard Morrhy, Printer at Paris in 1551. 


Latin and Greek Geographers. Measurement of the Roman World. Voyages of Hippalus and 
Diogenes. Marinus of Tyre, Pomponius, Mela, and Ptolemy. Coloured and Figuratve 
Itineraries. Barbarian Invasions. Stephen of Byzantium. Geographical Ignorance from 
the Sixth to the Tenth Century. Charlemagne and Albertus Magnus. Dicuil. Geography 
amongst the Arabs. Master Peter and Roger Bacon. Vincent of Beauvais. Asiatic 
Travellers in the Thirteenth Century. Portuguese Navigation. The Planisphere of Fra 
Mauro. First Editions of Ptolemy. Maritime Expeditions in the Fifteenth Century. 
Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. Spanish, Dutch, and French Travellers, Sec., 
in the Sixteenth Century. 

REAT as was the progress of geographical 
knowledge after the establishment of the 
Roman empire, still greater, in contrast, 
were its decadence and disfavour in the 
early part of the Middle Ages ; that is to 
say, in the beginning of the fifth century. 
Geography, in fact, was one of the most 
useful auxiliaries of the aggressive policy 
of Rome, directing the march of her ex- 
peditions all over the world, and enabling 
her to acquire useful knowledge concern- 
ing the countries which she had conquered. It may, therefore, be said that 
the science of geography was in general practice during the reign of 
Augustus. A perusal of the principal writers of that period is sufficient to 
show how widely spread were the general notions of geography in a society 
which, being well versed in letters and highly educated, was acquainted with 
the great works of the ancient Greek geographers, especially those of 
Eratosthenes (276 194 u.e.) and Polybius (204 121 B.C.), and which used 
Sn;il>u's Greek Geography as a manual for reading the Latin historians and 
poets, and as a guide-book for the most distant provinces of the empire. 
Poets such as Virgil, Ovid, Manilius, and Lucan, and historians such as 

M M 


Livy and Julius Csesar, were also geographers ; and Pliny the Elder summed 
up, in his four books of "Natural History," all the results obtained by 
geographical research, and set forth in a number of works no longer extant. 

Pliny often mentioned in his " Natural History " the geodesical operation 
attributed to Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, prime minister and son-in-law of 
Augustus. It was Julius Caosar who, during his consulship (according to 
the positive assertion of Ethicus, a geographer of the fourth century), 
"ordered by a senatiis-comultum that the whole Roman world should be 
measured by men of the greatest ability and endowed with all sorts of 
knowledge." This vast enterprise, intrusted to four Greek mathematicians 
and geographers, Zenodoxus, Theodotus, Polyclitus, and Didymus, who had 
under their orders a staff of geodesical measurers and land surveyors, was 
completed in twenty-five years. It would appear that Agrippa took the 
matter in hand, and when it was completed he proposed to construct at 
Rome a gigantic portico, beneath which he intended to " unfold the map 
of the world before the eyes of the universe," as Pliny expressed it. The 
premature death of this illustrious general prevented the execution of this 
grand project, but the map of the Roman world, with the roads and distances 
indicated, was deposited in the archives of the Senate (Fig. 192). 

Nor was the progress of geography assisted by the victorious armies 
alone, for the travellers, and still more the merchants, whose vessels, even at 
that period, conveyed them to the most distant parts and brought back cargoes 
from the ports of India, did much towards the same end. Under the reign of 
Nero, two centurions were sent by the Emperor to Ethiopia in search of the 
sources of the Nile, and this expedition is alluded to by Seneca and Pliny. 
Previously to this, during the reign of Claudius, a Greek philosopher of Egypt, 
one Hippalus, had struck out with his vessel from the coast, and ventured 
across the high seas, starting from the Gulf of Adulis (Aden), and arriving 
upon the coast of India. Another traveller, named Diogenes, was driven by 
north winds as far as a large island called Menuthias, otherwise Zanzibar. 
From this time forward all the coast-line was marked upon the marine maps, 
but the Erythrean Sea (as the Indian Ocean was then called) was believed to 
be impassable and full of terrible dangers, though more than one Egyptian 
or Phoenician sailor had endeavoured to sail across it. 

One of these experienced pilots, Marinus of Tyre, carefully collected all 
the geographical information which he could gather from the maritime com- 



merce of Phoenicia and Egypt, and he used it to prepare more detailed and 
correct maps than were at that time in use, and to compose a book of 
geography, which, though no longer in existence, is copied from by Ptolemy. 
That writer says of him, " Marinus of Tyre, the latest of our contemporaries 
who has cultivated geography, seems to have done it to some purpose, for 
it is evident that he has made several additions to the former knowledge 

Fig. 192. Map of the Roman World. Taken from the " Liber Guidonis." Manuscript dated 
1119 (No. 3,898). In the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

of this subject, and that he has corrected earlier writings which contained 
errors that had at first misled him as well as others. This is seen very 
clearly in his corrections of the Geographical Table." Previously to Marinus 
of Tyre, a Roman citizen, Pomponius Mela, had written a useful treatise on 
geography, entitled, " De Situ Orbis," in which he described the countries of 
the known world, following the circumference of the seas, and beginning with 


the Mediterranean ; and his treatise, which formed a luminous and rapid sum- 
mary, was one of the handbooks of geographical study in the Middle Ages. 

A Greek geometer, named Claudius Ptolemaeus, born at Pelusa, in Lower 
Egypt, who was at the famous school of Alexandria in the middle of the 
second century, formed an idea of writing a general treatise upon Mathema- 
tical Geography after the plan traced by Hipparchus in the year 125 H.C. 
He had prepared himself for this task by a long series of astronomical 
observations and calculations. In the second book of his " Almagest " he 
wrote, " I intend to mark the longitude and latitude of the principal towns 
of each country, to facilitate the calculation of the celestial phenomena 
which occur there. I shall mark by how many degrees, counting from the 
meridian, each of these towns is distant from the equator, and I shall 
also compute, in degrees counted from the equator, the eastern and western 
distance of each meridian compared with that which passes at Alexandria, for 
it is after the meridian of that city that I intend to reckon those of the 
other places on the earth's surface." Ptolemaeus was more of an astronomer 
and a geometer than a geographer; he had not travelled at all, and had, 
therefore, no personal experience, while, excepting the astronomical part of 
his book, he merely borrowed from his predecessors and contemporaries cos- 
mographic materials which he loosely arranged without sequence or comment. 
The best features in his work are what he borrowed from the treatise of 
Marinus of Tyre, and he says, " I resolved to preserve so much of his book as 
does not require correction, and to throw light, by means of the most recent 
information, and by a better arrangement of the places on the maps, upon 
the obscure points of his treatise." Ptolemaeus unfortunately, while preparing 
his list of all the places in the known world, making eight thousand names, 
committed the most glaring errors, owing to his having sought to fix the 
latitude and longitude of the localities by means of astronomical observations. 

The Geography of Ptolemaeus, written in Greek (Fig. 193), and doubtless 
translated simultaneously into Latin for the use of persons travelling through 
the Roman empire, was, in spite of his faults of omission and commission, 
consulted as being the most useful guide-book during a long journey. The 
coloured maps appended to it were, perhaps, rectified soon afterwards, upon 
new itinerary measurements being taken ; for, previously to Ptolemasus, there 
existed not only road maps, to which Vegetius refers in his treatise on the 
Art of "War, under the name of itincra picta (coloured itineraries), but 



<tiK,tt,i (iiniiotatecl itineraries), upon which were marked the day's 
marches. It was one of these figurative itineraries that the learned Conrad 

Fig. 193. Map of the Island of Sardinia. Reduced Fac-sitnile of a Map of the Geography of 
Ptolemseus. Greek Manuscript of the Twelfth Century, preserved in the Monaster^ of 
Vatopedi, Mount Athos. 

Celtcs discovered in a monastery of Germany, at the end of the fifteenth 
'i-iitury, and which his friend Pentinger of Augsburg presented to the 


Imperial Library at Vienna (Fig. 194). This precious document, consisting 
of twelve maps representing the world as it was known in the third century, 
forms, so to speak, the explanatory complement of the tract chart of the 
provinces of the Roman empire, which has been handed down to us under 
the title of "Antonini Augusti Itinerarium," and which appears to have 
been drawn by the geographer Ethicus in the fourth century. 

These itineraries and maps, which were sold at Rome and in the principal 
cities of the empire, and which must have often been copied as they passed 
from hand to hand, were not, in all probability, foreign to the continuous 
migration of the barbarian hordes which gradually moved upon Italy 
from the different parts of the world, and systematically followed the same 
method in order to reach Rome. These invaders, whether coming from the 
North like the Lombards, the Suevi, the Yandals, and the Goths ; from the 
heart of Asia, like the Huns ; or from the steppes of Caucacus, like the Alani 
or the Heruli, had long been kept in awe by the Roman legions ; but, when 
once they began to burst the barriers and to advance with sagacious caution 
through the Roman provinces which they ravaged (Fig. 195), it was easy to 
see that they had selected beforehand the territory which they intended to 
occupy, by the way in which they created frontiers and military stations 
with not less intelligence than boldness. They did not swerve from the 
route which they had traced out, and paid implicit obedience to chiefs who 
had been formed in the schools of Athens or Alexandria. 

Thus the study of geography was apparently fatal to the empire, because 
it demonstrated to its enemies and rivals how vulnerable its very vast- 
ness made it, and what facilities were afforded for an invasion by those 
splendid military roads which enabled countless hosts to arrive by easy stages 
under the very walls of Rome. The Emperors, it is true, endeavoured for 
more than a century to stem the tide of invasion, and it is not unreasonable 
to suppose that they had all the maps and itineraries which facilitated the 
progress of the invasion destroyed. The teaching of geography was not, 
however, neglected in the schools, for the historians of the fourth century, 
Claudianus, Nemesianus, and Ausonius, the Emperor Julian, Ammianus 
Marcellinus, and Macrobius, display very profound geographical knowledge, 
which they must have acquired by travel and study. But the special treatises 
on geography were very rare at this period, and the only works which are 
known to have escaped a destruction which we may assume to have been a 



planned one are the Latin "Cosmography" of Ethicus and a few 
(books of circumnavigation) written in Greek. 

As soon as the invading nations had formed themselves into kingdoms 

~ r^> > s^-vQ^y <j> a L "" *> " v * 2***^^ 

^T^.jSi^ ^!^^L ~^^ ^ c*n <*_ ^y-i*c>- ^^*^^ ^orrm. 

^ ^^^^ff^SSZ^^3^f 

Fig. 194. Fragment of the Map of Gaul. Reduced Fac-simile of Pentinger's Map. Manuscript 
of the Thirteenth Century. In the Imperial Library, Vienna. 

upon the Roman soil, and their chiefs had become kings rivalling the Caesars 
in power, geography resumed its position and reasserted its usefulness. 
Thus at the court of Theodore the Great, Boethius and Cassiodorus, one 


born at Rome and the other in Calabria, both of whom rose to the highest 
dignities in the new kingdom of the Ostrogoths, combined with learning of a 
very varied kind an extensive and thorough knowledge of geography, which 
made their services exceedingly valuable. Cassiodorus has disseminated in his 
"Letters" a mass of valuable information and of interesting remarks concerning 
places, men, and customs. Boethius himself translated into Latin the books of 
Ptolemy, so as to put them within the reach of those who did not speak Greek. 

In the pagan schools which remained open at Constantinople and through- 
out the empire of the East, until closed by Justinian in 529, were taught, 
after the writings of Eratosthenes and Hipparchus, of Strabo and Ptolemy, 
both cosmography and geography, in addition to simple astronomy this latter 
as a guide to the forecast of weather, the variations of the atmosphere, and 
navigation. Stephen of Byzantium, who lived in the sixth century, composed 
a large Dictionary of Geography, of which all that remains extant is a dry 
and useless abridgment. But it may be learnt from the works of the Greek 
historians of this epoch, especially of Procopius, that geography was con- 
sidered to be inseparable from history. Thus Procopius and his successor, 
Agathias, are true geographers. We meet but one Latin geographer in the 
sixth century, viz. Vibius Sequester, who, in a work dedicated to the nomen- 
clature of rivers, springs, and lakes, seems to have learnt from the poets 
what little he knew upon the subject. The Christians of Africa still 
read Syriac translations of the Latin and Greek works on geography by 
Aristotle, Ptolemy, Pliny, Pomponius Mela, &c., which had been studied 
after the original texts in the schools of Athens and Alexandria, and these 
Syriac translations were afterwards retranslated into Arabic, when the 
Caliphs, successors of Mahomet, had founded Mussulman schools in the 
countries which they occupied and conquered. Very naturally geography 
must have had a special attraction for a warlike people which aspired to 
conquer the world, and to propagate throughout it the religion of the Koran. 

The schools of Cordova and Toledo in Spain, as well as those of Bagdad 
and of D,schindesabour in Asia Minor, accordingly remained open for 
geographical instruction at a period when geography was no longer taught 
throughout the West, which was at that time plunged in barbarian darkness. 

From the sixth to the tenth century there were but few manuscripts 
which escaped destruction ; all the coloured maps and traced itineraries were, 
like the images, ruthlessly destroyed by the iconoclasts. The only remaining 


2 73 

Fij;. 19,5. Arrival at Cologne of the Fleet of the Tyrant Maximus, who revolted fgainst tha 
Roman Emperor Gratian. Some of the Vessels conveyed St. Ursula and her Companions to 
the number of eleven thousand, who were put to deuth hy the Barbarians whom the Emperor 
Gratian had dispatched nguirist the hostile Fleet. Fragment of the "Legend of St. Ursula," 
painted upon the Keliquary of that Saint, ut Bruges, by J. Memliug (Fifteenth Century). 

notions of cosmography and geography dating from that period are to be 

N N 

2 74 


found hidden in scholastic encyclopedias, which, like the ark in the Deluge, 
float here' and there amidst the abysses of ignorance. In addition to the 
encyclopaedic compilations of Martianus Capella (470) and Isidore of Seville, 
there were a few historians who took some interest in geography : the historian 
of the Franks, Gregory of Tours (about 590), the historian designated as the 
"Anonymous of Ravenna," and the historian of the Lombards, Paul Warne- 
frid (780). There can be no doubt, moreover, that Charlemagne had con- 
templated the encouragement of the teaching of geography, when this science, 
not then regarded as a handmaid of politics, resumed its rank at the Palatine 
School directed by Alcuin, who included it, with dialectics, philosophy, 
astronomv, and arithmetic, in his course of lessons. Yet it was only a very 

Fig. 196. Brunehaut superintending the making of the Seven Roads which led from the City of 
Bavay. After a Miniature in the "Chroniques de Hainaut." Manuscript of the Fifteenth 
Century. In the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

imperfect and elementary science, for it was confined to the theories of 
Aristotle, who described the terrestrial globe as being 9,000 leagues in 
circumference and 2,803 leagues in diameter, while he estimated the sea to 
be ten times greater than the earth, and asserted that the latter was 1,400 
leagues deep from the surface to the central axis, and had an area of 
5,000,713 square leagues. Based upon these data, mathematical and astrono- 
mical geography could not be other than a chaos of erroneous ideas and 
misleading traditions. 

The genius of Charlemagne, however, extracted therefrom the clever 
invention of the cadastral measurement, the germ of which is to be seen in 



the Capitulary Laws of the great KmjMTor, and which eventually, under the 
feudal regime, gave the geometrical measure of the area of the soil, while 
carefully preserving the ancient names of the different localities. By means 
of this descriptive definition of the limits of fiefs, historical geography 
recovered, after the lapse of centuries, all the topographical details of the 
territory of the Gauls during the lifetime of Charlemagne and of his successors. 
The historians and the poets of this period, of whom but a few are known to 
us, do not give much information as to the state of geographical knowledge, 
which, notwithstanding the schools founded by Alcuin, seems to have been 

Fig. 197. Seal of the Town of Dunwich (Thirteenth Century). 

very scanty. But it is probable that the knowledge of geography was much 
more advanced in Great Britain and Ireland, for Alcuin was educated in the 
monasteries of those countries, as also were St. Columba, St. Gall, Theodore, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, Scotus Erigena, and other savants who came to 
France, where they founded monasteries and established chairs for teaching 
the sciences, and geography was always given a place in their programmes. 
There was the more need for its cultivation in England, as it was very useful 
to the traders and fishermen of the ancient port of Dunwich (Fig. 197), in the 
North Sea. 


Alfred the Great, King of the Anglo-Saxons (849 901), who, like 
Charlemagne, was a sovereign of great organizing powers, took a special 
interest in these studies, and set an example to his subjects by making him- 
self acquainted, with a view to developing the fisheries and trade, with the 
islands and coasts washed by the Baltic and the North Seas. Two travelling 
traders, one a Dane named Wolfstan, the other a Norwegian named Other, 
wrote an account of their maritime explorations. Wolfstan had explored the 
Baltic coast, and Other had navigated to the polar seas by way of the coasts of 
Norway and of Lapland. Alfred the Great, who translated into Saxon the 
" Universal History " by Orosius, written in the fifth century, added to it, from 
the accounts given by Wolfstan and Other, the description of an immense 
extent of country which the Romans had but caught a glimpse of athwart 
the miraculous stories of a few sailors who had sought to reach the mysterious 
island of Thule (Iceland), which was looked upon as the extreme limit of the 
habitable globe. It was owing to him that there were prepared pilots' charts, 
to enable fishermen to exercise their industry in the remote regions of the 
Norwegian continent (Figs. 198 and 199), and to establish a carrying trade 
with all the ports of the Baltic. Geography, in England as in Germany, 
consisted at that time of a few rudimentary but practical notions. Thus a 
canon of Bremen composed, in 1067, a brief description of Denmark, under 
the pretentious title of "Geographia Scandinaviae ; " while, two hundred years 
before, an Irish monk, Dicuil, wrote a regular treatise on general geography 
entitled, " De Mensura Orbis " (Concerning the Extent of the Universe) 
borrowed from the Latin writers, Pliny, Solinus, Orosius, and Priscian, 
supplement 3d by some novel remarks upon the northern countries. But this 
treatise, though it contains an account as to the discovery of Iceland and 
other interesting facts in contemporary history which the monks had 
imparted to the author, also contained several errors, but little in the way of 
commentary. For instance, Dicuil divides the world into three parts, 
Europe, Asia, and Libya, in which latter he places the source of the Nile, not 
far from the Atlantic, in the mountains of Mauritania. 

There are doubtless but few geographical works during the tenth and 
eleventh centuries which place the theory of the science in a reliable form, 
but it may be taken as certain that geography itself was taught wherever 
education existed. The Greek schools in the empire of the East could not 
afford to neglect a study which was inseparable from that of history and of 


2 77 

philosophy, and geography even became an essential part of politics, as is to 
be learnt from the treatise composed by the Emperor Constantino Porphyro- 
genetes for the education of his son, and which bore the title of " De 
Administratione Imperil." This book, written in the middle of the tenth 
century, is, in reality, a geographical work, containing a very complete 
description of Eastern Europe and of a part of Asia. Many cosmographical 
books, descriptions of travels or of embassies, were written in Greek during 
the eleventh and the twelfth centuries, but they have not been published. 
The numerous writers of the history of Byzantium describe the peoples and 

Figs. 198 and 199. Navigators who have mistaken a Whale's Back for an Island seating them- 
selves upon it to cook their food. The Whale, feeling the fire, plunges to the bottom, and the 
Vessel narrowly escapes being wrecked. Miniature from the "Bestiaire d' Amour," by Richard 
Furnival. Manuscript of the Tenth Century. In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, 

states in other parts of Europe with a degree of accuracy and detail which 
testifies to their being well versed in geography. 

It was in Islam that the best geographers of that time were to be found. 
The Mahometan mind had from the first taken to the study of geography, 
which made immense progress after the eighth century in all the Arab schools. 
The Caliph Al-Mamoun, son of Haroun Al-Raschid, was noted for his pre- 
dilection in favour of this science, and he translated into Arabic the Geo- 
graphy of PtolemaDus, adding to it illuminated maps, which latter fact showed 
that Ptolemaeus's original maps had either been lost or were not reproduced 



in the Syriac translation. From the reign of Al-Mamoun the Arabs measured 
an arc of the" meridian in order to calculate the size of the earth, and to rectify 
the calculations of rtolemacus as to the measure of the degree of each of the 
large circles which were supposed to intersect the earth at intervals of 66| 
miles. The conquests of the Arabs, their trade by land and sea, and, above 
all, their religious pilgrimages to Mecca, served at once to enrich their store 
of knowledge both as to astronomical, physical, and political geography. 
They brought from China the compass, with which the Chinese had been 
acquainted from time immemorial, and the use of it at sea unquestionably 
led to a total and almost immediate revolution in the science of geography. 
The Arabs possessed in the tenth century two learned geographers, Ibn- 

Fig. 200. " How Alexander did battle with the Beast which is very formidable and has three 
Horns." Miniature from a Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century (No. 11,040). In th; 
Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

Haukal and Masoudi, both natives of Bagdad. The first wrote a geographical, 
political, and statistical description of the Empire of the Caliphs, in the pre- 
face to which he said, " I have collected all the information which has made 
of geography a science interesting to men of all degree." Masoudi intro- 
duced into a large encyclopaedic work entitled " Akhbar al Zeman " (the 
News of the Time) all the documents which he had collected during twenty- 
five years' travels through Asia and Africa ; but it would appear that this 
work has been lost, and all that remains is an abridgment made by the 
author himself under the title of " Golden Prairies," and which itself fills 


eight volumes. Masoudi deserves to l)e siii-iiained the 1'liny of the Must. A 
great number of works on geography in the Arab literature of the Middle 
Ages might be cited, the best known of which is that by Edrisi, a Spanish 
Arab, who wrote his book at the court of Roger, King of Sicily, in 1154. It 
was for this prince, a friend of letters and sciences, that Edrisi constructed an 
armillurv sphere and a terrestial planisphere in silver. (See the chapter on 
Occult Sciences.) 

The example of the Arabs was not without its influence upon the renais- 
sance of geographical science in Europe, when the Crusades made a knowledge 
of geography indispensable. First of all, it was necessary to study all the 
routes leading to Jerusalem, to prepare itineraries and tract charts for the 

ig. 201. "How Alexander did battle with White Lious big as Bulls." Miniature from a 
Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century (No. 11,040). In the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

crusaders ; and in these new and unknown lands, into which eager multitudes 
were about to penetrate, there was nothing to guide them save the untrust- 
worthy descriptions of the ignorant pilgrims who from the fifth century 
had undertaken the laborious task of visiting the holy places. This led to an 
improved study of geography in the schools of the West ; and in the monas- 
teries, each of which had its library, the monks set to work at copying the 
writings of the early geographers, such as Strabo, Pausanias, and Polybius, 
Pliny, Pomponius Mela, Solinus, and Ethicus. These authors were expounded, 
commentated, and compared with the less ancient and almost contemporary 
writers. The famous Abbey of Monte Casino, in the kingdom of Naples, was at 
that time one of the principal centres of geographical lore. Numerous pilgrims 


who went to or returned from Palestine halted for a day at this abbey, 
where they were received with the greatest hospitality, and told the story of 
their travels and adventures (Figs. 200 and 201) to their learned hosts. It 
was here that Constantino the African, one of the lights of the school of 
Salerno, retired, after having, when he left the schools of Alexandria and 
Bagdad, travelled through Egypt and Asia for twenty-nine years. His 
wonderful lore earned him the reputation of a sorcerer, but the Due de 
Pouille, Robert Guiscard, whose secretary he was, protected him, and he was 
able to continue undisturbed his medical and geographical works in a retreat 
where his curious descriptions of the countries beyond the sea lighted up the 
hours of repose and recreation which the monks of St. Benedict were allowed 
to snatch from their labours and prayers. 

The University of Paris was not yet founded, but the ecclesiastical 
schools already flourished in the capital as well as in all the important 
cities which had their bishop. The teaching of geography was limited 
at that time to a few rudiments, all more or less erroneous, and it was in 
the Latin classic poets, such as Virgil, Horace, and Ovid, that students got 
some idea of the facts relating to descriptive geography. Nothing can prove 
more clearly the ignorance which then prevailed as to the shape of the globe 
than the rough designs which are to be met with in a few manuscripts of the 
eleventh century, the authors of which could never have seen Ptolemy's 
Geography. The geographical descriptions which occur in some of the 
poetry of the time were much nearer the truth, for the poets of the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries, such as Ausonius and Venantius Fortunatus, wrote 
of countries and places which they had seen. It was in this way that 
Marbodius, Bishop of Rennes, who died in 1123, sketched in his didactic 
poetry the geography of Brittany, giving it a picturesque character quite 
in harmony with nature. 

There were, however, some few men of genius to whom the general study 
of science had, even at that period, opened the arcana of astronomical and 
philosophical geography. Such was the master of Roger Bacon, that man of 
learning whose real name is not written in the works of his illustrious pupil, 
and who appears to have been one Mehairicourt, a native of Picardy. Roger 
Bacon always speaks of him as Master Peter. Philosopher, mathematician, 
and geographer, he had travelled in Europe and Asia before coming to Paris, 
where he taught Roger Bacon, about 1230, that which no other teacher had 



the power to impart to him. He had constructed a sphere which imitated 
tlit' motion of the heavens, and it was through the intermediary of astronomy 

and mathematics that he grappled with the most arduous questions of 
geography. Roger Bacon, in the fourth part of his "Opus Ma jus," devoted 

o o 


almost entirely to the description of the earth, doubtless transcribed without 
change the lessons which he had received from Master Peter ; but he notes 
the errors of the ancient geographers, refutes the opinions of Pliny and 
Ptolemy, and brings forward a host of fresh problems which science did not 
solve till long after his time. Not only did he describe very accurately 
regions not yet known and scarcely hinted at, but he further maintained 
that Africa extended very far south, that it had inhabitants the other side of 
the equator, that the temperature of the pole was endurable, that the Indian 
Ocean washed the southern coasts of the Asiatic continent, and that the earth 
was ten times more thickly peopled than was believed to be the case. 

At the time Bacon committed to paper, under Master Peter's dictation, 
these ingenious theories which changed the face of geographical knowledge, 
Albertus Magnus was propounding to attentive audiences numbered by the 
thousand, from his chair in the University of Paris, a system of geography 
stripped of all commentaries, and teeming with errors which he did not erase 
when he embodied his public lessons in a treatise entitled "DeNatura Locorum." 

Roger Bacon appreciated in the following terms the utility and main 
object of a science which was still groping its way in the dark : " Geography, 
like astronomy and chronology, has its roots in mathematics, inasmuch as it 
must repose upon the measurement and shape of the inhabited globe, and on 
the precise determination of latitudes and longitudes. But the carelessness 
of the Christian peoples is such that they do not know one-half of the globe 
which they inhabit. Yet the first important points to be settled are the 
measurement of the earth, the determining of the position of towns (Fig. 
202) and of countries, and the adoption of a fixed degree for the longitudes, 
starting from the western extremity of Spain to the eastern extremity of 
India. This immense work can only be accomplished under the auspices of 
the Holy Apostolic See, or of a monarch who would undertake all the costs 
of the enterprise, by remunerating the savants employed upon it. Moreover, 
it is impossible to form an opinion of men unless one knows what climate 
they inhabit, for if the products of the animal and vegetable kingdoms are 
dependent upon the climate, how much more must this be the case with the 
manners, the character, and the constitutions of peoples !" Thus we see that 
Roger Bacon's sagacity and spirit of intuition enabled him to anticipate by 
five centuries the philosophical results of modern science. 

The thirteenth century could not but restore geography to its place of 


honi)iir, when the Crusades were taking so many people to the East, and when 
the deu'lctpment of classical .study, favoured liy the ardour of the students 
who flocked to the schools of the Paris University, fostered a taste for 
encyclopaedias edited upon the same plan as Pliny's "Natural History." 
Geography was destined to occupy a permanent place in these vast compila- 
tions, and Vincent of Bea'uvais, who, by order of St. Louis, had intended to 
present, in a voluminous compilation entitled "Speculum Majus," the com- 
pendium of the scientific, historical, and philosophical information of his 
time, instead of merely putting together all the documents and systems which 
antiquity furnished him with concerning the history of geography and the 
description of the universe, sought out the travellers who had visited the 
countries which he intended to describe, and so obtained fresh information, 
which, unfortunately, he failed to get revised by a competent critic. Never- 
theless, his book is a valuable one, and he deserves great praise for his 
" Speculum Naturale," in which he treats of the position of the skies, of 
cosmography and geography, citing not more than a dozen Latin authors. 

From this period the accounts of travellers in Upper Asia enabled the 
inhabitants of Europe to form more accurate and extensive notions con- 
cerning this part of the world. The story of Prester John, alluded to 
in the previous chapter, was the principal cause of these travels, and Pope 
Innocent IV. and Louis IX. both determined to ascertain what truth there 
was in these travellers' tales. The Pope accordingly sent two missions into 
Asia; one confided to monks of the Franciscan order, the other to 
Dominicans. The first proceeded to Mongolia, and the second to Persia 
and Armenia. The story of the first mission was written by Brother John 
dc Piano Carpini, who arrived with his companions upon the banks of the 
Volga. The embassy sent to the Great Khan of Tartary by St. Louis a 
few years later was of greater service to geographical science, and the 
Flemish Franciscan monk, Ruysbroeck, generally called Rubruquis, gave 
many interesting details in the account which he wrote as to distant countries 
of which he could not ascertain even the name. Yet for another two 
centuries the existence of Prester John was generally believed in. 

Another traveller, Marco Polo the Venetian, who, soon after Rubruquis 
and John de Piano Carpini, went to seek his fortune in Tartary, and who 
for twenty years held a high post at the court of the Great Khan, availed 
himself of his residence and of his excursions in Asia to collect a mass of 


valuable notes about the geography of the countries which he inhabited for 
such a lon'g time. Upon his return to his country in 1298, he dictated an 
account of his journeys to a romance-writer, one Rustician of Pisa, who took 
them down in French eight years before Marco Polo had them written in 
Italian. This account, valuable and truthful notwithstanding the great 
credulity of the author, contained the fullest and best description which then 
existed of Tartary, Mongolia, Cathay or China, and other parts of Central 
Asia, and was, so to speak, the first effort of picturesque geography. Marco 
Polo found many imitators, but none of them equalled him. Travellers in 
Asia up to the fifteenth century consisted almost entirely of Franciscan or 
Dominican monks, amongst whom may be mentioned Pucoldi of Monte 
Croce, John of Monte Corvino, Oderic of Frioul, and John of Marignola ; but 
the most famous of all was an Englishman, John de Mandeville, who, from 
1322 to 1356, explored nearly the whole of the known world for the mere 
pleasure of travelling, and who, after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land 
(Fig. 203), explored 'part of Africa and nearly the whole of Asia. The 
story of his travels, written in English, teems with stories which do not 
say much for his judgment or powers of discrimination. Several travellers, 
who had seen fewer countries, displayed better powers of observation and 
more knowledge of geography, amongst them being Bertrandon de la 
Brocquiere, a Burgundian gentleman, who was one of the last to start with 
the pilgrim's staff for Jerusalem. 

The caravan travellers seem to have stimulated the energies of travellers 
by sea, and hydrography took its place beside geography. The first navi- 
gators who explored the western coasts of Africa were Portuguese. In the 
beginning of the fourteenth century (in 1315), Alonzo Gonzales Balduya 
advanced as far as Cape Bojador, almost within sight of the Canary Islands. 
The island of Madeira, which an Englishman, Masham, caught sight of in 
1344, was not positively discovered till 1417 by Gonzales Zarco, who took 
possession of it on behalf of his master, John I., King of Portugal. That 
king's son, Prince Henry, surnamed the Navigator, was passionately fond of 
maritime exploration, and devoted forty-eight years of his life to it. The 
object of his expeditions was not merely to discover new countries rich in 
gold, and offering fresh opportunities for commerce ; but, in trying to reach 
the equator, this enlightened prince had mainly in view the increase of 
geographical knowledge. The Canary Islands were already known, and the 

<,]:<>( ;K. i run \ \ i. .SY //:. \Y /:. 

King of Castile's flag had floated there since 1345, but the Portuguese 
expeditions advanced as far as the mouth of Rio Grande, and founded 
establishments at the islands off Cape Verde. In these successive explora- 
tions, which lasted half a century, under the leadership of Gil Eanes (1442), 
of Nuno Tristam (1443), of Alvaro Fernandez (1448), and of Cadamosto 
(1454 56), hydrographic surveys had been made of about a third of the 


Fig. 203. John de Mandeville, a celebrated English Traveller, taking leave of King Edward III., 
before his Departure for "beyond the Seas." Miniature from the " Merveilles du Monde." 
Manuscript of the early part of the Fifteenth Century. In the National Library, Paris. 

African coast, as far as the great South Cape. After the death of Prince 
Henry, Joiio de Santarem and Pedro de Escalona, who had explored the 
Guinea coast in 1471, crossed the line and opened up the navigation of the 
southern hemisphere. In 1484 Diego Cam reached the sixth degree of 
southern latitude at the mouth of the Zaire, and two years later Bartholomew 


Diaz, who had ventured out into the ocean, which was still called the 
Impenetrable .Sea and the Dark Sea, perceived the Cape of Good Hope, or 
Stormy Cape, at the extreme end of Africa. 

These African islands and coasts had already been frequented, for in 1471, 
when the Portuguese landed in Guinea, they were much surprised to find 
there a French trading depot called Le Petit Dieppe, which sailors from 
Dieppe had founded a century before. These were the same men who knew 
of the existence of North America a century before Christopher Columbus 
discovered the Antilles. Moreover, in 1395, the fleet of the brothers Zeno, 
freighted at Venice by the traders, had crossed the Atlantic under the 
guidance of a Dieppe pilot, who pointed out to it the northern coast of 
America ; but all these discoveries, due to commercial enterprise and the love 
of gain, and achieved by daring adventurers, were in no way useful to science, 
for they were kept, secret when they were likely to be beneficial to some 
branch of maritime commerce, while no importance was attached to them 
when they resulted in no material gain. It was not until the fifteenth 
century that navigators began to write an account of their voyages, or to have 
them recorded by the cosmographers who were generally to be found on 
board. But these records were either kept secret or were shown to only a 
very few people, as the navigators looked upon them as property over which 
it was necessary to keep close watch. Thus the curious voyage of Cadamosto, 
" Prima Navigatione alle Terre de' Negri " (First Navigation to the Land of 
Negroes), did not appear until 1507. 

These travels were more useful to map-makers than to geographers, for 
every traveller and navigator found a map indispensable, and after making 
one for himself, he added to it the result of his own discoveries. Previously 
to the fourteenth century maps were very scarce, and those which did exist 
were faulty and incomplete. The oldest general map of the world dating 
from the Middle Ages is that which Marino of Venice presented to Pope 
John XXII. in 1321. This map, which appears to be an imitation of the Arab 
maps, is nothing more than a picture in which the relative position of places and 
countries is given almost hap-hazard, without any sign of parallels or meridians. 
A hundred and forty years later, a Camaldulan monk, Fra Mauro, painted upon 
the wall of one of the rooms in his monastery, in the isle of Murano, near 
Venice, an immense planisphere, in which he grouped all the known geographical 
facts of his time. The first marine maps, drawn by Italian, Portuguese, or 



Spanish pilots, are not of an earlier date than Marino's map of the world, 
but they were very numerous in the following century. These charts, which 
are as a rule remarkable for the excellence of their drawing, are wonderfully 
accurate, and often contain allusions to celebrated sea voyages, together with 

Fig. 204. Map of the Island of Taprobana. Reduced Fac-simile of a Map in Ptolemy's 
Geography, in the Latin Edition of 1492 (TJlmae, per Leonardum Hoi), oflered by Nicholas 
Germain to Pope Paul II. In the Library of M. Ambroise Firinin-Didot, Paris. 

references which enable the reader to follow the phases of these voyages in 
chronological order, and to ascertain their results. It may safely be said that 
every pilot was capable of drawing for himself a very minute coast chart of 
all the seas in which he navigated. 


This abundance of charts and maps, especially in countries which 
possessed a navy, explains how it was that copper engraved maps were almost 
contemporaneous with printing in movable type, which was invented in 1440, 
but kept a secret by the town of Mayenne until 1466. The first edition 
of Ptolemy's Cosmography .was printed in folio at Vicenza, by Hermann 
Levilapis of Cologne, in 1462 ; but this edition had no maps. Nicholas 
Denis the Benedictine had, however, composed for Ptolemy's book maps 
which were engraved on copper by Andrea Beniucasa. But in the mean- 
while a new set of maps, also intended for Ptolemy's book, was admirably 
drawn by the printer, Conrad Sweynheym, the associate of Pannartz, who 
had removed his presses to Rome ; and these maps, numbering twenty-seven, 
in which the letters were stamped with jewellers' punches and hammered, 
were completed by the Alsacian Arnold Buckinck, to illustrate the edition of 
Ptolemy which was printed at Eome under the superintendence, so far as 
the letterpress was concerned, of Domitius Calderini, and which appeared 
in 1478. Other editions, with maps engraved on wood and coloured with the 
paint-brush, appeared in succession in Italy and Germany (Fig. 204). The 
Greek text of Ptolemy was carefully revised by the geographers, who sought 
to amend and interpret it, in order to improve the Latin translation, which 
was continually being reprinted by the thousand ; for the Greek text was not 
printed until 1533. 

The publication of the Latin translation of Ptolemy was followed by that 
of several ancient geographers, and these primitive editions testified to the 
sympathy of the lettered public for geographical science. The Popes Paul II. 
and Sixtus IV. gladly accepted the dedication of the editions which Conrad 
Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz printed at Rome. Strabo, translated into 
Latin, appeared in 1469 ; Pliny in 1473 ; Solinus, at Milan, in 1471, and at 
Paris in 1473. These works were also reprinted at Venice, where they were 
eagerly bought up. The study of geography at this period held a large place ( 
in the system of public education, and what proves it even more clearly than 
contemporary evidence is the quantity of small editions of Pomponius Mela 
which were printed for use in the universities throughout Europe. 

There can be no doubt that this profusion of maps and books on geography 
gave a general impulse to sea voyages and expeditions. The Portuguese, 
after spending a whole century in their discovery of the western coasts of 
Africa, prepared to push forward into the Indian Ocean by way of the Cape 



of Good Hope, so as to extend their commercial, military, and naval power to 
Asia as well as to Africa. Diego d'A/ambuza created in 1481 the first 
European establishment in Guinea, which had been explored twenty years 
beforehand by his compatriot Cintra ; and Joan Cano discovered Congo 
in 1484. But the boldest mariners, notwithstanding their possession of the 
compass, which had been discovered in the twelfth century, would not 

Fig. 205. Discovery of San Domingo (Insula Hyspana) by Christopher Columbus. After a Sketch 
which ia attributed to him, and in which he is himself made to appear. Fao-simile of a Wood 
Engraving of the "Epistola Christoferi Colom," undated Edition (1492 P), in quarto. In 
the Milan Library. 

venture across the Atlantic, which was believed to be boundless and full of 
perils. The pilots, however, discussed amongst each other whether or not a 
vessel, by steering continually westward, would reach the most easterly 
islands of the Indian Ocean. This was the idea formed by the Genoese pilot, 

p P 


Christopher Columbus, born in 1446, and accustomed to the sea from his 
childhood.. He says in one of his letters, " God imparted to me great know- 
ledge of maritime matters, and some knowledge of the stars, of geometry, 
and of arithmetic. Moreover, He granted me the power to delineate globes, 
and to indicate the proper position of towns, rivers, and mountains." He 
was, therefore, a geographer, and still more a chart-maker. 

A Florentine astronomer, Toscanelli, showed him a map upon which he 
had indicated the route to follow in the Atlantic in order to reach the Indian 
isles, for it was not supposed that there was any land between Europe and 
Asia. Columbus, as ho himself states, only intended at first to " seek for the 
East by way of the West." The advice of Toscanelli induced him to follow 
this new route, but it was in vain that he applied to the Republic of Genoa 
and the King of Portugal for funds to equip his vessels. After eight years 
of fruitless efforts he obtained from Ferdinand, the Catholic King of Arragon, 
and Queen Isabella of Castile, three small vessels, with which he started from 
the port of Palos, in Andalusia, on the 3rd of August, 1492. In March, 1493, 
he returned to Spain, after having discovered the islands of San Salvador, 
Cuba, and San Domingo (Fig. 205). Appointed Viceroy of the new lands which 
he had acquired for Spain, he returned there in the following year, but it was 
not until his third voyage in 1498 that he discovered the continent and 
explored the coast of South America (Fig. 206). 

The discoveries of Christopher Columbus, whose name did not apparently 
obtain the notoriety which it deserved in after ages, produced a great effect 
throughout Europe. The first indications, vague and incomplete as they 
were, were received with enthusiasm, and the detailed information by which 
they were followed left no doubt as to the existence of these vast unknown 
lands. They led to the fitting out of a great number of maritime expeditions, 
in which science had no part, and the object of which was to take people to 
what was called the gold country. A great impulse, however, was given to 
geography, and throughout Italy and Spain the principal families devoted 
large sums to the formation in their palaces of collections of books, maps, 
and instruments bearing upon nautical astronomy, hydrography, and all 
the branches of ancient and modern geography. These families, animated by 
generous motives, spent vast sums in promoting voyages of exploration and 
discovery to the new parts of the world. 

An adroit Florentine adventurer, named Amerigo Vespucci, was enabled, 



by tlic munificence of one of these Italian families, to equip a small flotilla, 
and make several voyages in the seas explored by Christopher Columbus. 
These voyages were probably undertaken for commercial purposes; but 
Vespucci gave them the appearance of having been made in the cause of 
geography by publishing, in the form of a letter, the description of new lands 
which he claimed to have discovered before Christopher Columbus, to whom 
he made no allusion. This letter, written in Italian and of which a great 
many copies were printed, was widely circulated throughout Italy, the 

Fig. 206. Signature at the foot of an Autograph Letter of Christopher Columbus, addressed from 
Seville to the noble Lords of the Office of St. George, and dated " A dos dias de Abril 1502." 
Preserved iu the Municipal Archives at Genoa. 

inhabitants of which were much pleased at the success of one of their country- 
men, and at once gave to the New World the name of America in his honour. 
The latter, after the death of Columbus in 1506, continued his voyages along 
the American coast, and stoutly maintained that if Columbus had discovered 
the islands of that continent, he was the first to have found the continent 
itself. His statements were believed, and the name of America was finally 
given to a continent which he had merely explored in company with several 


Spanish, French, and Portuguese navigators, such as Hojeda, Pinzon, and 

The Portuguese seemed for a time to abandon their expeditions to the 
New World, being so much engaged in establishing their trading stations 
upon the west coast as they had already done upon the east coast of Africa. 
Albuquerque and Vasco de Gama had won for them the islands of Goa and 
Ceylon, and their possessions upon the Asiatic shores increased rapidly. But 
their navigators could not long remain indifferent to the commercial current 
which was drawing all the navies of Europe into American waters, and they 
entertained the hope of discovering in the new land a passage into the Indian 
Ocean (Fig. 207). Thus their voyages had a certain scientific tendency, and 
were calculated to serve the progress of geography. Gaspar Cortereal sought 
in vain northward this passage communicating with Asia. He entered the 
Gulf of Labrador, and ascended the St. Lawrence in 1500, where he was 
stopped by the ice. Three years previously a Venetian trader named 
Cabotto, settled at Bristol, had attempted to discover in this direction a 
passage to India, but the only result of his explorations was the discovery of 
Newfoundland. The intrepid Magellan was more fortunate in his researches 
along the east coast of South America, and he discovered in southern latitudes 
the straits which still bear his name, and which opened up an entrance into 
the South Sea, across which he pursued his voyage to the countless islands of 
Polynesia (1521). Magellan, though a Portuguese, was in the service of 
Spain when he undertook this long and perilous expedition, which had 
such brilliant results for geographical science. 

The object of the expeditions of the Spaniards into America, which 
followed one another in rapid succession, was to take possession of the 
country in the name of the King of Spain, and to enrich a few adventurers 
of various nationalities. Diaz de Solis and Pinto discovered Yucatan in 1507, 
having disembarked at Rio Janeiro ; Pontius de Leon discovered Florida by 
chance in 1512 ; Vasco Nuiies saw Peru in 1513, and Pizarro conquered it 
in 1526. These conquests and discoveries were not of any immediate service 
to geography, for the navigators thought less of studying the country than of 
working the gold and silver mines ; but when naturalists and men of letters, 
such as Oviedo y Valdes, J. Varezzani, Ramnusio, and other savants went to 
the country, its geographical features became better known. 

King Francis I., who would have liked France to have had a share 



in the new continent, gave a very conspicuous place to geographical study in 
the Royal College founded by him. He encouraged most of the voyages 
undertaken during his reign, amongst which must be mentioned that of 
Jacques Cartier, who discovered Canada in 1533. Other French travellers 

Fig. 207. Galley of the Sixteenth Century. After an Engraving by Raphael. In the Collect T on 
of the Fine Arts Academy, Venice. 

not less devoted to the cause of science explored both hemispheres, and 
collected, during their distant pilgrimages, very useful information of a 
geographical kind ; amongst them being Pierre Gilles, Andre Thevet, and 



Pierre Belon, who published excellent Cosmographies oil the East; Jean 
Parmentier'and Francois Nicolay, who visited the two Indies, and brought 
back much interesting information. Amongst the most indefatigable of 

Fig. 208. Vow of the first Companions of St. Ignatius in the Church of Monlmartre, upon the 
Day of the Assumption (1534). Father Pierre Lefevre, the only priest in the whole Compaq-, 
is saying Mass. Picture of the School of Simon Vouet (Seventeenth Century), in the School 
of St. Genevieve, Paris. 

travellers were the companions of St. Ignatius and of Francois Xavier, who 
commenced about this time to write the history of their missions in the 


hitherto idolatrous lands whither they went to preach the gospel (Fig. 208). 
Geographical publications were in such demand throughout France at this 
period that the Paris booksellers ventured the simultaneous publication, 
during the reign of Charles IX., of two enormous compilations taken from 
the celebrated " Geographia " of Sebastian Munstcr, and bearing the title of 
" Cosmographie Universelle," the one by Francois de Belleforest, and the 
other by Andre Thevet, and both illustrated with maps and engravings. 

The English and the Dutch did not hold aloof from this passion for 
discovery and exploration in Africa and America. The Dutch had also 
sought in a northerly direction for a direct route to the Indian Ocean, but 
they were driven back by the ice at the North Pole. England, while at war 
with Spain, sent two fleets, commanded by Drake and Cavendish, to the coast 
of North America to destroy the Spanish settlements ; and Drake, after he 
had accomplished this task, sailed to Cape Horn, and round it as far as 
Vancouver's Land, while John Davis had been extending his Antarctic 
explorations far into the frozen waters of Greenland. 

The savants of the Netherlands seem to have acquired the monopoly of 
the works illustrating the progress in geographical knowledge effected by 
such expeditions. Abraham Oertel, a Fleming of Antwerp, published in 
1570 the first Atlas of modern geography, under the Latin title of " Theatruin 
Orbis Terrarum " (Theatre of the Terrestrial Globe). Gerhard Kauffman, 
surnamed Mercator, a native of Rupelmonde, also published in 1594 a large 
Atlas executed with the utmost precision and elegance, and very remarkable 
from a mathematical point of view. These two magnificent works soon 
obtained a great reputation, and the learned Vossius was justified in his 
declaration that "geography and chronology have become the two eyes of 


The fabled Origin of Armorial Bearings. Heraldic Science during the Feudal Period. The First 
Armorial Bearings in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. The Meaning of the Colours arid 
Divisions on the Shield. Kings of Arms and Heralds. Heraldic Figures. Quadrupeds, 
Birds, Fishes. Plants, Flowers, Fruits. The Legend of the Fleur-de-lis. Emblematic Arms. 
Prevalence of Armorial Bearings in the Thirteenth Century. Helmets and Crests. 
Mottoes and Emblems. Traders' Sign-boards. Usurpers of Armorial Bearings. Decadence 
of the Science of Heraldry. 

OME have endeavoured to trace back the 
use of armorial bearings to almost the 
very commencement of human society. 
A writer on heraldry has not scrupled to 
affirm that the posterity of Seth borrowed 
their armorial bearings from the animal 
and vegetable kingdoms, and that the 
children of Cain painted upon their 
bucklers implements of husbandry. An- 
other person attributes their invention to 
Noah when he came out of the ark, and 

in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was constantly being asserted that 
ancient documents had disclosed the arms of Adam, of the first patriarchs, of 
the prophets, of the Kings of Jerusalem, of the Virgin Mary, and of Christ 

As M. E. de la Bedolliere, in a very luminous treatise upon the origin of 
heraldry, remarks, such blunders are not worth refuting. So far from being 
contemporaneous with the earliest ages, armorial bearings were not even 
known to the ancients. They had their national and hereditary symbols, 
such as the Lion of Judah, the Golden Eagle of the Medes, the Owl of 


Fig. 209. Or. 

Fig. 212. Azure. 

Fig. 215. Purpure. 

Fig. 210. Argent. 

Fig. 213. Sinople, or Vert 

Fig. 216. Tenne range. 




Fig. 211. Gules. 

Fig. 214. Sable. 


Fig. 218. Ermines. 

Fig. 220. Counter-vair. 

Fig. 219. Vair. 

Metals, Colours, and Furs interpreted by the Engravers of the Middle Ages by means of Marks 

and Conventional Signs. 

Q Q 


Athens, the Crocodile of Egypt, and the Dove of Assyria, but the devices 
with which their bucklers were covered were not transmissible from father 
to son. These figures, which the celebrated warriors of Rome represented 
upon their arms as the insignia of their warlike achievements, were selected 
at the bidding of fancy. We may, however, cite, as a unique instance of 
a patrimonial emblem, the crow which was worn on the crests of their helmets 
by the descendants of Valerius Corvinus, to whom tradition attributed a 
singular victory achieved by the intervention of one of these birds of evil 

When the age of feudalism set in, it became the custom to distinguish 
by means of various signs, bright colours being as a rule used, the military 
shields and insignia, so as to provide rallying-points for the troops during the 
thick of the fight. These decorative paintings, in which may be discerned 
the germ of armorial bearings, were at first styled cognisances, or entrc-sains, 
and they were all the more necessary as the vantailks, or eyelets, of the armet 
(closed helmet) quite hid the face of the wearer. 

Here and there, in the chronicles of the Middle Ages, are to be found 
traces of the cognisances, but at the epoch when they first appear in history 
these different signs, all of a very simple kind, were not used to form the 
special combinations which afterwards became the exclusive appanage of such 
and such a family, and which fixed the principles of heraldic science. They 
were, so to speak, public property, and any one who chose could appropriate 
them. Master Jean de Garlande, who wrote in 1080 a very curious descrip- 
tion of Paris, relates that the " dealers in bucklers, who supplied their goods 
to all the towns of France, sold to the chevaliers shields covered with cloth, 
leather, and pinchbeck, upon which were painted lions and fleurs-de-lis." 
Thus, as late as the close of the eleventh century, the Kings of France had 
no regular coat-of-arms, and the shields, embellished with lions and the fleur- 
de-lis, belonged by right of purchase to any one who chose to buy them, upon 
his showing that as a chevalier he had the right to use them. 

If the coat-of-arms existed as one of the attributes of nobility, it may be 
affirmed that the practice had not any fixed and general basis. Heraldic 
science was in its infancy, and had not even settled the way in which 
armorial bearings were to be composed, by the use of enamels that is to say, 
the metals and the colours and of the plush, or fur, to form the ground of 
the shield, in such a way as not to confound them, or place one upon the 


other. The metals, the or and the argent, were probably no more than colours 
of yellow and white. The colours properly so called blue, red, green, black, 
and violet had not received the names of azure, gules, sinople, sable, and 
purpure, which were assigned them when emblazonry became an art or a 
science (Figs. 209 to 220). The images or enigmatic figures which were 
placed on the coloured or metallic ground of the escutcheon presented little 
variety, and every one considered himself free to alter their colour and shape 
as suited his fancy. In any event, the unvarying principle which consists 
in never placing colour upon colour, or metal upon metal, in a coat-of-arms, 
was not established during the feudal period. At about this epoch, however, 
a few coats-of-arms, which at first were mere cognisances, began to become 
hereditary, amongst them being the cross voided, cheque, and pannette, 
which Raymond de St. Gilles affixed, together with his seal, to a deed dated 
1088, and which remained part of the armorial bearings of the Counts of 
Toulouse ; the two bars placed back to back which appear in the seal of 
Thierry II., Count of Montbeliard and of Bar-le-Duc, and which were handed 
down to his successors ; and the young lions which the Plantagenets Lad upon 
their coat-of-arms in 1127, and which, under the name of leopards, are still 
preserved in the royal arms of Great Britain. 

It was in the course of the twelfth century that the armorial bearings 
increased in number, and this was no doubt attributable to the first Crusade, as 
may be inferred from the choice of enamels used in them. The azure blue, or 
lapis-lazuli, had just been imported from the East, and its name of ultramarine 
is a reminiscence of the voyage to Palestine. Red got its name of gules 
from the fur trimmings which the crusaders wore round the neck and the 
wrists, and which were dyed red and purple (" murium rubrioatas pelliculas quas 
gulas vocant," says St. Bernard, the apostle of the second Crusade). The 
enamel sinople also received its name from the dye which the crusaders 
brought from Sinople, a town in Asia Minor. 

Several divisions in the shield also recall the time when the chevaliers 
were fighting " in the miscreant lands : " the martlet, a species of bird which 
emigrates every autumn to warm climates, naturally recalled Jerusalem ; the 
shell (coquille) appertains specially to the pilgrims ; the bezant d'or (a Saracenic 
or Arab coin) was the ransom paid to the Infidels ; while the cross, which in 
every conceivable diversity of shape appears in all the oldest coats-of-arms, 
announced a participation in the Holy "War. 


In the thirteenth century the cognisances became in universal use, and 
henceforward not only the nobles, but towns, villages, and abbeys also, 
assumed armorial bearings. The cognisances then received the name of 
blazon, the etymology of which gave rise to much debate among the learned, 
though this debate might have been spared had they noticed that in early 
French the word blazer (to shine, to blaze), of Celtic origin, is often used 
instead of shield or buckler. Thus the author of the romance " William-the- 
Short-Noscd," describing a battle in the twelfth century, writes that the 
assailants crushed the helmets and broke the blasons in pieces ; and in the not 
less ancient romance of " Garin le Loherain," which is referred to in another 
part of this volume, the hero is overthrown by a terrible blow dealt at his 
blason by Chevalier Ivait : in another place, King Amadus, attacking a 
Gascon, strikes the buckle, or central part, of his adversary's blmon. Blason, 
then, simply means the buckler, the shield, upon which the coat-of-arms was 
at first displayed. The science of blazonry, begotten of the necessity for having 
some means of distinguishing between so many different signs and emblems, 
was but the result of studying the various manners in which were arranged 
the enamels and divisions which appeared in the coats-of-arms. It was also 
called heraldic science, because it was the special study of the heralds, whose 
functions became of considerable importance in the feudal organization of the 
Middle Ages. The duties of the heralds are alluded to in the volume on 
"Manners and Customs" (chapter on Chivalry), but it may be added here 
that these officers of the household, who only obtained their diploma, or com- 
mission, after an apprenticeship of seven or eight years in the service of their 
feudal lord, had over them the kings of arms (Fig. 221), appointed by the 
sovereign to draw up a list of the nobles and gentry of each province, with 
their different armorial bearings, for the compilation of a general peerage, 
which was placed in the custody of the premier King of Arms of France. 

Figuring in their capacity of public officials at certain ceremonies, where 
they received, in accordance with the established custom, many valuable 
presents, the heralds of arms were, as a rule, men of considerable erudition, 
incessantly engaged in verifying the titles of nobility and the genealogies, in 
deciphering the blazons, and in establishing generally the true principles of 
heraldic science. It was they who laid down the laws with regard to the 
mass of distinctive decorations, the original selection of which had often been 
guided by ignorance or capriciousness. 


They, in the first place, settled the shape of the shield. That of the French 
barons, which was first of all triangular and somewhat slanting, was replaced 
by a quadrilateral shield, rounded at the two lower corners, and terminating 
in a point at the centre of its base. The Germanic shield was remarkable for 
its rounded basis, and for a lateral indentation, which was used for supporting 

\. \ \ \ \ 

Fig. 221. "Fashion and Manner in which the King of Arms displays to the Four Judges the 
Plaintiff and Defendant, and presents to them the Letters of the said Plaintiff and Defendant, 
wearing upon his shoulder the Cloth of Gold and the Painted Parchment of the same." 
Miniature from the " Tournois du roy Rene 1 ." Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. In the 
National Library, Paris. 

the lance when the man-at-arms, mounted upon his charger, held this lance 
at rest, covering his breast with his buckler. 

Leaving to special heraldic treatises the theoretic description of the 
different partitions of the shield that is to say, the lines which divide it into 
horizontal, diagonal, and perpendicular sections or parts we proceed to give 



a summary explanation of the figures which, once so familiar, have become 
very enigmas to most persons in the present day, which constitute the blazon 
(Figs. 222 to 239). 

Fig. 222. Party per Pale. Fig. 223. Party per Fess. Fig. 224. Party per Bend. 

Fig. 225. Party per Bend 

Fig. 226. Tierce per Pale. Fig. 227. Tierce per Feas. 

Fig. 228. Quarterly. Fig. 229. Quarterly per Saltier. Fig. 230. Gyrony of Eight. 

Terms of Heraldry. Partitions of the Shield. 

To the colours and metals already mentioned, and which seem to have been 
selected solely in order that they might harmonize with the variegated costume 
of the chivalry of the Middle Ages, must be added the plush, or fur that is to 



say, the ermine and the fair the valuable furs used in France by the nobles of 
the ninth century; for we read in the "Life of St. Ge"raud," written at this 
period, that the grandees of the Carlovingian court trimmed their fur mantles 

Fig. 231. Ecarlele contre- 

Fig. 232.- Parti d'un trait et 
coupe de 2 (6 quartiers). 

Fig. 233. Parti de 3 traits 
et coupe d'un (8 quartiers). 

Fig. 234. Parti de 4 traits et 
coupe d'un (10 quartiers). 

Fig. 235. Parti de 3 traits, 
coupe de 2 (12 quartiers). 

Fig. 236. Parti de 3 traits, 
coupfi de 3 (16 quartiers). 

Fig. 237. Parti de 4 traits, Fig. 238. Parti de 7 traits, Fig. 239. ficartele, avec un 
coup*? de 3 (20 quartiers). coupe de 3 (32 quartiers). ecu sur le tout et sur le 

tout du tout. 

Terms of Heraldry. Partitions of the Shield, 
with the fur of the ermine, or Armenian rat, and that they used lozenge- 


shaped strips of ermine or foumart to form the fair (variegated fur). The 
enamel, or sable, which represents black in the language of heraldry, was 
the fur of the sable, or fisher-weasel, as it is called by several poets of the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries. 

Amongst the panels in the coats-of-arms are to be found several other 
devices borrowed from the dress of the nobility of that period, such as the 
labels, or gold fringe of sashes ; the orles, or trimmings of tunics ; the bands, 
or ba rs, which represented scarfs; the lambrequins (mantles), or plumes made 
of silk or velvet, which were affixed to the extremity of the helmet ; the 
housseaux, or top-boots with thick soles, which were only worn by men when 
they went out on foot in wet weather ; the pairlc, which, having the shape of 
the letter Y, resembled the bishop's pallium, and constituted, according to the 
heralds of the sixteenth century, the emblem of the great derations of the 
chevalier : " His God, his Lady, and his King." 

In addition to the hieroglyphics derived from the dress of the nobility, 
there were other heroic symbols : the vals, or marks of jurisdiction ; the 
frettiaux, or frettcs, the barriers which fenced in the lists ; the portcullis, the 
towers, the chains, the arrows, and the battering-rams, emblems which carry 
their own explanation with them ; and also the keys, which were a souvenir of 
the capitulation of a castle or of a city. 

Fire, water, clouds, and even the stars (Figs. 240 to 244) also entered into 
the composition of the shield. The Chains family has azure, with three 
crescents argent, and that of Cernon azure, with six comets or, three in chief, 
and three in point, with the crescent en abisme (in the centre of the shield). 

The whole of the human body is not so often used in the blazon as the 
separate parts of the body head, hands, eyes, legs, &c. which are sometimes 
represented, as also are animals, plants, and various objects, with their 
natural colour, called in heraldry carnation. 

The animals, quadrupeds especially, which, as a general rule, imply alle- 
gorical ideas, are very common in the blazon, though they are always repre- 
sented after a type more or less untrue to nature : the lion (generosity), the 
elephant (courtesy), the squirrel (foresight, because that animal is careful to 
close the apertures of his nest), and the lamb (gentleness). For instance, the 
Montalembert arms are or, with three wolves' heads, sable ; the Portal arms, 
azure, with ox or, accompanied in chief by six fleurs-de-lis, the same ; the 
Coignieux arms, azure, porcupine passant sable. 



As a general rule, birds express change of residence, of nationality, and of 

Fig. 240. The Piccolominis, a Fig. 241. John II., King of Fig. 242. Richard Coeur- 

de-Lion, King of Eng- 
land (11891199). 
A Star, probably that 
of Bethlehem, issuing 
from out of the Horns 
of the Crescent. 

Family belonging to Rome, 
und established at Sienna 
about the Eighth Century. 
A Crescent, with the 
Motto, " Sine macula." 

France (1350 1364). A ra- 
diating Star, with the Motto, 
" Monstiaut regibus astra 
viam," in allusion to the star 
which guided the Magi to 

condition, irrespectively of the particular meaning applicable to each (Figs. 246 

Fig. 243. Martin, I., King of Arragon (1395 
1 110). Faith triumphant, erect upon the 
Terrestrial Globe, with the Motto, "Non 
in teuebris." 

Fig. 244. Emanuel, King of Portugal (1495 
1621). The Terrestrial Globe, surrounded 
by the Ocean, across which are sailing 
several Portuguese Vessels. Motto, 
" Primus circumdedisti me." 

and 247). Thus dominion is represented by the eagle ; vigilance by the cock, 

R R 


the heron, or the stork ; conjugal affection by the dove ; eloquence by the 
parrot ; long and laborious old age by the swan ; and self-devotion by the 
pelican, which was believed by the ancients to nourish its young with the 

Fig. 245. Alfonso X., King of Castile (1252 1284). A Pelican opening its side to nourish the 
Young. Motto, " Pro lege et grege." 

flesh of its own breast, and which is represented (see Fig. 245) upon its nest, 
with extended wings, tearing its breast and brooding over its young. In the 
language of heraldry the drops of blood which the pelican draws from its 


Fig. 246. Robert of Anjou, King of Naples 
(1309 1343). A Swallow bringing Food 
to its Young. Motto, " Concordia regni." 

Fig. 247. William, Prince of Orange (1572 
J584). A IL'.lcyon placing its Nest in the 
Sea, and above it the Monogram of Christ. 
Motto, "Scevis tranquillua in undis." 

breast are called piety, when they are of a different enamel from the bird. 
Thus the house of Lecamus has gules (shield on a red ground), with pelican 
argent, vulning itself yules, in its eyrie ; the chief seamed azure, charged with a 

III'.RAf.niC SCIENCE. 307 

fleur-de-lis or. The ancient family of Vienno, which had given two admirals 
and a marshal to France, has ijnli'x, with eagle or. The house of Savoy, in 
Dauphiny, has azure, with three doves or; Montmorency, or, cross gules, 
cantoned by sixteen spread-eagles, azure. These spread-eagles, which, as a 
rule, represent eagles without beak or claws, and which indicate a victory 
over some foreign foe (Fig. 248), have a special meaning iu the arms of the 
house of Lorraine. It is said that during a festival given in honour of King 
Pepin, a quarrel having arisen between the Franks and the Lorrainers, the 
Duke Begon, who held the post of seneschal, placed himself at the head of 

Fig. 248. Godfrey de Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine, King of Jerusalem (1099).-An Arrow trans- 
fixing three Spread-Eagles. The Motto, taken from Virgil, is, "Dedehilne viam casusve 
deusvef " The Spread Eagle still forms part of the Arms of the House of Hapsburg- Lorraine. 

the kitchen servants, armed them with spoons, pokers, and fire-dogs, and, 
seizing for himself a spit upon which several plovers were being roasted, 
committed a frightful carnage amongst the Franks. It was in memory of 
this exploit that the plovers, converted into spread-eagles to make it clear 
that they were upon the spit, took their place in the arms of Lorraine, which 
looked back with pride upon the fact of the Duke Begon having been one of 
its early rulers. 

Fish generally represent sea voyages and naval victories. One of the fish 
oftenest used in the shield is the dolphin (Fig. 249), which even, by means 


of heraldry, gave its name to Dauphiny, one of the greatest fiefs of the 
French crown. 

Shell-fish, serpents, and insects also form part of the figures used in 
heraldry, but it is difficult to say what was the special signification attached 
to them. Lowan Geliot, however, in his "Armorial Index," published in 
1650, states that the cricket represents all the domestic virtues, because this 
insect " only frequents the hearth of honest people." 

According to the same author, whose imagination gets the better of him, 
as is the case with all the old heralds of arms, plants, flowers, and fruits had 
all a fixed symbolism: the oak, for instance, meant power; the olive-tree, 
peace ;' the vine, gladness ; the apple-tree, love ; the cypress, sadness ; the 

Fig. 249. Pope Paul III. (1534 1549}. A Chameleon carrying a Dolphin. 
Motto, "Mature." 

pomegranate (Fig. 250), by an ingenious idea, was held to represent " the 
alliance of nations and men united under one religion." Trifolium, columbine, 
tierce-feuilles, quatre-feuilles, and quinte-feuilles represented hope, because their 
appearance in the spring presaged the summer and autumn crops ; the rose 
naturally typified grace and beauty. The fleur-de-lis (which in France, at all 
events, may be called the queen of heraldic flowers) has a complex meaning, 
which justifies its selection by French kings to variegate the azure field of 
their banner bespangled with innumerable fleurs-de-lis or, before the heralds 
reduced the number of flowers to three (Fig. 276). 

Various experts have argued that this so-called fleur-de-lis did not in 

If/-: KM. DIC SCIENCE. 309 

reality belong to the vegetable kingdom. According to them the flower- 
shaped charges which Louis VI. first placed upon his seal, and which 
rhilip of Valoia, in the fourteenth century, reduced to three, were the iron 
tips of the three-headed javelins in use amongst the Merovingian Franks. 
Other dabblers in heraldry have described the shield of the early Kings of 
France as "sable, three toads or." The best contradiction to these ridiculous 
statements is to be found in the "Annals" of William of Nangis, and that 
ancient chronicler says, " The Kings of France had in their arms the fleur- 
de-lis painted in three leaves, as much as to say, ' Faith, wisdom, and chivalry 
are, by the grace of God, more abundant in our kingdom than anywhere else.' 
The two leaves of the fleur-de-lis which are bent signify wisdom and chivalry, 
which guard and protect the third leaf placed between them, and the 

Fig. 250. Catherine of Arragon, first Wife of Henry VIII. (1501). A Pomegranate bearing a 
Re;l Rose and a "White, in allusion to the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster, 
uniting the Rights of the two Families to the English Crown. 

greater length of which signifies faith, which must be governed by wisdom 
and protected by chivalry." 

It is, therefore, beyond doubt, according to the evidence of this historian 
of the thirteenth century, that in the arms of the King of France the central 
petal of the fleur-de-lis represented religion, and that the wings or side-leaves 
represented the moral and material force which was intended to support it. 
Moreover, the fleur-de-lis was used in the arms of many noble families, both 
French and foreign, which were in no way connected with the kings of the 
third French race. It was only some of these families which had obtained 
the privilege of placing the fleur-de-lis upon their escutcheon, as a recompense 
for services rendered to the Crown. Thus Charles VII., when he ennobled 



the brothers of Joan of Arc, gave them not only the new name of Du Lys, 
which they assumed after their sister, but also an azure escutcheon, charged 
with a pointed sword, with two fleurs-de-lis or, dexter and sinister (Fig. 251). 
After having made use of the principal emblems furnished by nature in 
the composition of armorial bearings, heraldic science borrowed from the 
work of human hands, or from the fanciful conceptions of the human mind. 
Thus certain families took for their escutcheon instruments of music, such as 
harps, guitars, or hunting-horns, and the ordinary utensils of domestic life, 
such as pots, drinking- glasses, knives, mill-stones, candlesticks, &c. Other 

Fig. 251. Family of Joan of Arc, alias Du Lye. A Sword argent in pale, the point suppoiting a 
Crown or, and being flanked with two Fleurs-de-lis, with the Motto, "Consilio 6rmatei Dei." 
This Coat-of-arms was composed by Charles VII. himself, in 1429. 

families, having more ambitious ideas, placed in their arms imaginary 
animals, such as the phrenix, the unicorn, harpies, and so forth. 

It is worthy of remark that many arms were emblematic ; that is to say, 
people charged them with certain common objects which happened to present 
an analogy with their family name (Fig. 252). For instance, the Bouesseaux 
had three bushels (boisseaux) azure; the Chabots, three chabots (a river- 
fish) ; the Maillys, three mailkts (malets) sinople ; the Du Palmiers, three 
palms or ; the Eethels, three rateaux (ratres) or ; the Crequys, a crequier 
(cherry-tree) gules ; the Begassoux, three heads of the btcasse (woodcock) or ; 
the Auchats, a chat (cat) startled, argent ; the Herices, three herissons (hedge- 


hogs) xnlik ; the Gourdins, three gourd*, or ciilitlmxlir*, or; the Guitons, a 
guitar or. Upon the same principle, the city of Rheims, then written 
Jifiinx, took in its arras two rainseaiue, or nihix, intertwined branches, &c. 

The close of the thirteenth and the whole of the fourteenth century were 
the most brilliant in the history of heraldry. It was a metaphorical language 
which at that time every one spoke and understood, from the highest to the 
lowest. Armorial bearings were placed everywhere, with the dead as with 
the living, for they were used to decorate tombs and epitaphs. They were to 
be seen sculptured, engraved, or in relief, designed or painted, in the great 
castles and in the modest manors, upon the lintels of doors, upon the locks, 
upon the weather-cocks, upon the brick pavements, upon the window-glass, 

fig. 252. The Orsini (Roman) Family (Fourteenth Contury). A Bear crouched (the moaning of 
the name), holding a Sand-glass. Motto, " Tempus et hora." 

upon the chimneys, upon the tapestry, and upon all the pieces of furniture 
(Fig. 253). They were even reproduced, in many different ways, upon the 
dress of the nobles and of their wives and families, as well as upon their 
servants' liveries, upon the trappings of their horses (Fig. 254), upon their 
dog-collars, and upon the hoods of their falcons and hawks. 

Towards the fifteenth century the blazons were made more complex by 
the addition of the helmet or distinctive sign ; that is to say, above the shield 
there was placed the hcaume (chevalier's helmet), either full-face, three- 
parts face, or in profile ; and according to its shape and the way in which it 
was made, it indicated exactly, and at a single glance, the condition and title 



of the person. Thus the kings had the helmet or, full-face, the visor com- 
pletely open and without bars, to signify that a sovereign ought to know and 

Fig. 253. The Lords and Barons "make windows of their blazons ;" that is to say, exhibit their 
nobility by displaying their Banners and Coats-of-arms fiom the windows of the Heralds' 
Lodge. After a Miniature in the "Tournois du Roy Rene." Manuscript of the Fifteenth 
Century. In the National Library, Paris. 

to see everything. The helmet of counts and viscounts was argent three-parts 



profile, the visor drawn down, and having nine bars or. That of a baron had 
only seven bars to the visor. That of the gentry untitled was of polished 
steel, placed in profile, with five bars argent. "When the King conferred or 
sold a title, he invented as the crest of the blazon, for the person ennobled, 

Fig. 254. The Duo de Bourbon, armed cap-a-pie for the Tournament. After a Miniature in the 
" Tournois du Hoy Rene." Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. In the National Library, 

:in iron helmet in profile, with the rantaille and nose piece half open. The 
helmets further had pieces of cloth called laHibmjiiin*, which the wearers 
attached to the crests of their helmets, the size of which gradually attained 
enormous proportions. Tlx-se cn-sts themselves became an essential ornameiit, 

s s 


and represented lions, horns, chimscras, and human arms bearing some 
weapon. Gradually, however, it became the custom to replace these acces- 
sories by plain coronets enriched with gems and pearls, the shape and number 
of which varied according to the rank of the wearer. 

About the middle of the fifteenth century it became customary for families 
which had enrolled troops, and led them to join the ost (army) of the sove- 
reign under their own banners, to place above the crests a Imtel, or scroll, 
bearing upon it their battle-cry. Gradually this right was claimed by every 
chevalier banneret who had the means of assembling under his pennon, or 
gonfalon (a standard with the arms or colours of a noble), four or five gentlemen 
and twelve or fifteen men-at-arms equipped at his expense. 

Moreover, the battle-cry is of very much earlier date than the fifteenth 
century, for even the Barbarians were accustomed to nerve themselves for 
the fight by cries which were also used as signals. The usage of rallying 
the soldiers upon a field of battle by means of some shout uttered by the 
whole army in chorus is to be discovered in the Bible, for Gideon, when he 
was about to take the camp of the Midianites by surprise at night, ordered 
his own men to shout when they attacked the enemy whom the Lord 
had delivered into their hands, " For the Lord and for Gideon ! " 

In the Middle Ages battle-cries were universal. Most of them were 
nothing more than the names of the different nobles and chevaliers, supple- 
mented by some flattering epithet or pious invocation, such as Mailly ' La 
Tremoille ! Bourbon, Bourbon, Notre Dame ! Coucy, a la Marveille ! The 
great barons used as a battle-cry the name of a province, of a lordship, or of 
an important town upon their domains, and these did not change even when 
the town or lordship changed owners. Under the Dukes of Burgundy the 
Hennuyers still cried, Hainaut an noble due ! The men of Gascony, Navarre, 
and Arragon shouted, Bigorre ! Bigorre ! as under the Kings of Navarre and 
of Arragon. The men of Beauvais, when they went out to do battle, invoked 
Beauvais lajolie! while those 'of Louvain shouted, Lou m in rni riche due ! 

The battle-cries of certain families contained allusions to the charges iipon 
their coat-of-arms, and Flandre au lion was the cry of the Counts of Flanders, 
and Au peignc d'or (the golden comb) that of the lords of Gallant. Another 
family used as its battle-cry a sort of exhortation to the valiant, or of menace 
to the vanquished, without any special or generic characteristic. The Counts 
of Champagne cried, Passarant les meillors ! the Chevaliers of Bar, Au feu ! 



nu feu ! those of Brie, Cans d'oisenux ! The meaning of some battle-cries 
was evidently to implore the intercession of God, of the Virgin, and of the 
saints during the fight. The Dukes of Brittany exclaimed, St. Yves ! St. 
Malo ! the pukes of Anjou, St. Maurice ! the Montmorencys, Dieu ayde 
au premier baron chrestien ! and the Chastel-Montforts, St. Marie, aie ! 
(aid us !) 

It is to this latter category of war-cries that assuredly belonged that of 
the Kings of France, Montjoie St Denis ! the origin of which has given rise 

Fig. 255. llary Tudor, Queen of England (15531558). A Double Rose intersected down the 
middle, with a Bundle of Arrows, surrounded with Rays, and surmounted by a royal Crown. 
The Double Rose is an allusion to the Houses of York and Lancaster, while the Arrows repre- 
sent the House of Arragon. 

to so many conflicting and misleading statements. One theory is that Clovis, 
giving battle in the valley of Conflans, drove back the enemy to the foot of a 
tower called Montjoie, and that he perpetuated the memory of his triumph 
by taking Montjoie as his battle-cry. Another theory is that Clovis, having 
invoked the aid of St. Denis at the battle of Tolbiac, called him, in French, 
mon Jupiter, man Job ! which was corrupted into Montjoie. But, as a matter 
of fact, Montjoie St. Denis merely means, " Follow the banner of St. Denis," 
for this banner during battle was hoisted upon a gilt chariot, as upon a 

3 i6 


Fig. 256. Device of 
Henry VII., King 
of England (1485 
1509). A Haw- 
thorn-tree in flower, 
between the letters 
H. E. ("Henricus 

Fig. 257. Device of Pope Leo X. 
(15131521) .A Yoke, with 
the Motto, " Suave." 

Fig. 258. Device of 
Charles IX., King of 
France (15601574). 
Two Columns in- 
terlaced, the emblem 
of Piety and Justice 
(" Pietate et justi- 

montjoie (an eminence or hillock), that it might be visible from, afar while the 

Fig. 259. Device of Henry III., King of 
France (1574 1589). Three Crowns, re- 
presenting those of France and Poland, 
and that which he hoped to obtain : 
" Manet ultima coelo." 

Fig. 2UO. Device of the Emperor Charles V. 
While yet King of Spain (1518) he 
adopted as his emblem a Sun rising above 
a Zodiac, and as his Motto, " Nondum in 
auge " (Not yet at its zenith). 

combat was going on. The Kings of France were entitled to the banner of 


St. Di'iiis in their quality of arouds (lawyers) of the abbey of that name, and 
Counts of the Vexin. Louis VI. was the first to go and take the oriflamme, 
which was no other than this banner, in the basilica of St. Denis, upon the 
altar of the holy martyrs (which was called the montjoie), and his successors 
continued to come and ask for it from the monks of the royal abbey whenever 
they were about to start upon an expedition, " because," says Suger, " the 
blessed St. Denis was the special patron and protector of the kingdom." 
This same word was to be discovered in several other battle-cries, such as 
Montjoie St. Andrii'iu- ! Montjoie Anjou ! and others. 

War-cries ceased to be used during battle when Charles VII., having 
founded the ordinance companies, dispensed the bannerets from the duty of 

Fig. 261. Device of Catherine de' Medicis, Queen of France, during her Widowhood. 

leading their vassals to the fight. It was then that these cries were inscribed 
upon the scroll placed above the crest, while underneath, upon another scroll, 
appeared, in letters of gold or of silver, the patrimonial motto of the house. 
There was, moreover, this difference between the battle-cry and the motto 
that the latter was not always hereditary, for in some cases it changed at 
each generation even in the same family. For instance, the ordinary motto 
of the house of Sales, in Savoy, was originally, " Ni plus, ni moins," but 
several members of this family adopted other mottoes. That of Francis de 
Sales, Lord of Roisy, was, " En bonne foy ; " that of John de Sales, " Adieu, 
biens mondains ! " that of Galois de Sales, "In paucis quies;" that of St. 
Francis de Sales, " Numquam excedet," signifying, with the word Charita* 
understood, Charity never dies out. 


In many cases mottoes, like the charges on the shield, are allusive, and 
reproduce the family name with a sort of play upon the words. Such are 
Achay, in the Franche-Comte, " Jamais las d'acher ; " Vaudray, " J'ai valu, 
vaux et vaudray;" Grandson, "A petite cloche, grand son;" Lauras, in 
Dauphiny, " Un jour 1'auras ; " Disemieux, " II est nul qui dise mieux." 

Several mottoes, also, contain allusions to the figures in the coats-of- 
arms. Thus the Simian family, whose arms are or, seme with fleurs-de- 
lis and turrets azure, has for motto, " Sustentant lilia turres " (The lilies 
support the turrets). There are mottoes, too, which evoke the recollection 
of a battle or of a proverb, or which enounce some indefinite and mys- 

Fig. 262. The Arms of Anne of Brittany, Queen of France. An Ermine, pure and spotless, 
attached to the Order of the Cordeliere, founded by the Queen for Ladies, with the Motto, 
"A ma vie." The royal Shield is supported by an Angel, with the Motto, " Rogo pro te 
Anna " (Anne, I pray for thee), and upon the other side a Lion rampant, with these words, in 
allusion to the ermine of Brittany: " Libera earn de ore leonis" (Deliver it from the jaws 
of the lion). Miniature from the " Funerailles d'Anne de Bretagne." Manuscript of the 
Sixteenth Century. In the Library of M. Amhroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

terious allusion. For instance, Antoine de Croy, " Souvenance ; " Jean de 
la Tremoille, " Ne m'oubliez ! " Johann Schenk, in Germany, " Plutot 
rompre que flechir;" Philip of Burgundy, after his marriage with 
Isabella of Portugal, "Autre n'auray," an alteration of the amorous 
motto, " Autre n'auray dame Isabeau, tant que vivray." The proud mottoes 
of the Rohans and the Coucys are very well known : " Roi ne puis, due ne 
daigne, Rohan suis ; " " Je ne suis roy, ne due, ne comte aussi, je suis le sire de 
Coucy." Sometimes the mottoes were merely represented by mute emblems, 
such as the White Rose of the house of York, the Red Rose of Lancaster 


Wig. 263. Jean Le Feron, it learned Ficncli heraldic Scholar (1504 1570), presents oi.e of hU 
Works to King Henry II. Miniature from the "Blnson d'Armoiries," by Jelian Le Feron. 
Manuscript of the Sixteenth Century, No. 705. In t) e Arsenal Library, Paris. 

(Fig. 255), the Thistle of Bourbon, and the Musket of Burgundy; and 
sometimes they comprised both emblems and inscriptions, as in Italy, where 

3 20 


Camillo Pallavicini, member of an ancient Milanese family, bore a flower, the 
stem of which was being nibbled by a turtle, with the Italian inscription, "Ogni 

Fig. 264. Banner of the Calais Innkeepers. Fig. 265. Banner of the Amiens Butchers. 

Fig. 266. Banner of the Bethune Tailors. Fig. 267. Banner of the St. Omer Cobblers. 

Fig. 268. Banner of the St. L6 Dyers. Fig. 260. Banner of the Bordeaux Upholsterers. 
belleza ha fine" (All beauty is perishable). Another Italian, Paolo Sfortita, 


had painted at the side of his blazon an arrow strung upon the bow, and 
point iii" 1 heavenwards, with the words, " Sic itur ad astra " (Figs. 256 to 260). 

Fig. 270. Banner of the St. L6 Blacksmiths. Fig. 271. Banner of the Tours Slaters. 

Fig. 272. Banner of the Paris Founders. Fig. 273. Banner of the Lyons Tinmen. 

Pig. 274. Banner of the Don ti Shoemakers. Fig. 275. Banner of the Pin and Needle Slakerj. 

The mottoes forming riddles, more or less difficult to solve, came into 

T T 


fashion during the sixteenth century. The house of Medicis had in its arms 
a. diamond and three ostrich feathers, with the motto forming a Latin pun, 
" Super adamas in pennis " (Above the diamond, in the wing feathers), and this 
strange device is only to be understood by translating it thus : Ahcayx 
iuriiK-ible in trouble. 

The art of devices for it had become an art, as heraldry had become a 
science was often used for the composition of enigmas which defied the 
sagacity of the solvers of riddles (Fig. 276). Pierre de Morvilliers, first 
President of the Paris Parliament, had as his device a portcullis connected 
with a Y, and his name was expressed by this figure (Mort Y lies), because 
the portcullis is the emblem of death, which makes all things equal. 

Several hereditary devices perpetuated the memory of some historic event. 
Charles VIII., during the battle of Fornova (July loth, 1495), when surrounded 
by a mass of the enemy, was saved by the Seigneur de Montoison, whose 
heroic valour soon changed the fate of the battle, and the King, after it was 
over, recompensed his deliverer by giving him as his motto the words which 
he had uttered in calling him to his assistance, "A la rescousse, Montoison ! " 
Catherine de' Medicis, after the death of Henry II., who was killed by the 
thrust of a lance at a tournament (1559), changed her device and took a 
broken lance, with the motto, " Hinc dolor, hinc lacrimse " (Hence my woe, 
hence my tears). Christopher Columbus, who discovered America, left to his 
descendants the noble Spanish motto 

" Por Casttlle ot por Leon 
Nuevo mundo hallo Colomb." 

(For Castile and Leon, Columbus discovers a new world.) 

At about the time that devices of all kinds were becoming numerous, the 
custom was introduced of adding to coats-of-anns supporters, or tenants (Fig. 
262). The first of these names was given to the animals which supported the 
shield ; the second to the men of human form who held it up the angels, 
chevaliers, heralds, moors, savages, &c. This was the most brilliant period 
of heraldry, but it was also the most confused and the most fatal to this 
ancient institution, which had done so much for the chivalry and the nobility, 
as the excessive exaggeration of heraldic signs was, as a matter of course, 
favourable to fraud and usurpation of armorial bearings (Fig. 263). This 


usurpation, which was generally a prelude to the usurpation of titles of 
nobility, did not involve any other punishment than a fine a fact which is 
mentioned in an ordinance of Charles IX. addressed to the States of Orleans 
in 1560, and framed as follows: "Those who shall falsely usurp the name 
and title of nobility, take or use crested arms, will be fined by our judges, 
and the most rigorous measures will be used to make them pay these fines." 
But, in spite of the numerous and severe decrees of the Crown against the 
assumption of titles, the evil increased, and by the end of the fifteenth century 
the merchants and the working mechanics, as well as the bourgeoisie, took 
for themselves arms and devices without any opposition upon the part of the 

Fig. 276. The Arms of France in the Fifteenth Century. After a Miniature in the Missal of 
Charles VI. In the Library of M. Ambroise Finnin-Didot, Paris. 

judges of arms, who exercised an official supervision over all the matters 
relating to the nobility and their privileges. It may be supposed, therefore, 
that this assumption of armorial bearings by the middle classes was only 
tolerated in return for the payment of a tribute to the King as the supreme 
dispenser of all nobiliary privileges. The Crown had, moreover, recognised 
a sort of nobility of trade, by the grant of statutes to the workmen's corpora- 
tions, which showed themselves as jealous as the nobility of their honorary 
distinctions, and of the arms which they had painted, engraved, or 
embroidered upon their insignia (see Figs. 264 to 275), at a time when 
Montaigne declared in his " Essays " that if " nobility is a good and reasonable 


institution, it is to be esteemed far below virtue," inasmuch as " it is a virtue, 
if it be one, of an artificial and visible kind, dependent upon time and fortune ; 
diverse in form, according to the country. . . ." The ancient custom of 
solemnly interring the arms of an extinct family in the grave of its last 
representative had been abandoned for centuries. Even if noble families 
became extinct, they were resuscitated with their armorial bearings, and 
formed new branches by substitution of name, by alliance, or by usurpa- 
tion. This was the cause of the different verifications and reforms of the 
nobility which took place in the fifteenth century, and which added a large 
sum in the way of fines and royalties to the King's treasury. 

Heraldic science has, however, survived the noble institutions which first 
brought it into existence, and though it has lost a part of its primitive 
importance, it still remains almost intact as a picturesque monument of the 
past, and as a tradition of mediaeval history. 


Antiquity of Proverbs amongst all Nations. Proverbs in the Middle Ages. Solomon and Slarcoul. 
The Philosophers' Proverbs. Ilural and Vulgar Proverbs. Guillaume de Tignonville. 
Proverbs of the Villeins." Bit de 1'Apostoile." Historical Proverbs. Proverbs in Works 
of Prose and Verse. French Proverbs in the Sixteenth Century. Foreign Proverbs. The 
Use of Proverbs. Constable de Bourbon's Collection of Proverbs. 

HE popular sayings which compose what 
has been called the "ancient wisdom of 
nations " are of all times and of all lands, 
for proverbs are to be found in the early 
language of all nations ; but they belong 
especially to the Middle Ages, which had 
collected and preserved them as a precious 
legacy of the early ages and peoples in the 
world's history. 

Every nation gives its own special 
impress, so to speak, to its familiar proverbs. 
The Italian proverb is witty and subtle; 

that of the Spaniards haughty and bold. The French proverb is incisive 
and satirical : originating in the lower classes, it very often attacks the rich and 
the powerful, and not unfrequently is expressed in language the liberty of which 
has developed into license. In England, Germany, and in all Northern nations 
the proverbs are severe, cold, formal, and pedantic. The proverb is used by 
all classes of society to characterize an individual act, or some general or specific 
occurrence, as occasion requires. It is never explained, but always understood. 
Proverbs passed, as by a natural transition, from speech into writing, and 
they are very abundant in the first works written in French, though the 
worb proverb itself does not appear to be of earlier date than the thirteenth 
century. Before this period, the word proverbium, though used by all authors 


who wrote good Latin, had no better equivalent in French than respit or 
reprovier. In the oldest version of the Bible, in the twelfth century, the 
passage in the First Book of Kings (chap, xix.), "Unde et exivit pro- 
verbium," the wordprorerbitini is translated respit. 

The Bible was then The Book, which was read and learnt by heart before 
any other, and which served as a type for various literary compositions. It 
is only natural, therefore, that King Solomon, who may be said to have given 
the model for this kind of literature in his Book of Proverbs, should have 
been regarded as an oracle to be oonsulted with respect in the Middle Ages. 
Besides, the Jewish legend which represented Solomon as the King of Magic, 
and which made him supreme over the whole of nature, had become an article 
of faith with the Christians as well as with the Jews. According to this legend, 
the Queen of the Ants settled one day upon the hand of the King of Israel, 
and revealed to him the secrets of eternal truth. One of the first collec- 
tions of French proverbs, published in the Middle Ages, was dedicated to 
Solomon, who is represented in it as the type of Divine wisdom, opposite 
to a man named Marcol, or Marcoul, who is the representative of human reason 
(Fig. 277). There is a dialogue in rhyme between the two. The Israelitish 
King utters some weighty saying, and Marcol answers him with an analogous 
axiom embodying the rough common sense of the people, and generally 
expressed in homely language. The " Dictz (sayings) de Salomon et Marcol," 
originally composed in Latin, were translated into all languages during the 
Middle Ages, and the French version probably dates from the twelfth century. 
One verse of it runs 

" ' Qui sages horn sera 
Ici trop ne parlera.' 
Ce dist Salomon. 
' Qui ja mot ne dira 
Grand noise (dispute) ne fera.' 
Marcol lui respont." 

The popularity of these rhymed proverbs, which were continually being 
revised, added to, and modified, is proved by the multitude of editions which 
appeared at the close of the fifteenth century. It is probable that the original 
Latin was written, in the tenth or eleventh century, by a student in the 
ecclesiastical schools of Paris, which undertook to vulgarise in this way the 



Book of Proverbs and the Book of Wisdom, which latter was also attributed 
to Solomon. 

Fig. 277. Solomon and Marconi. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving in the "Dictz de Salomon 
et Marcoul." Edition of the Fifteenth Century. In the National Library, Paris. 

It is very probable, also, that this name of Marcol, or Marcoul, or Marcou, 


given to the second person in the dialogue, was no other than Marcus, a cele- 
brated philosopher of the Middle Ages, who was believed to be Marcus 
Porcius Cato, called the Censor, or Marcus Cato, his son, who were considered 
to be the joint authors of the " Moral Distiches " (" Disticha de Moribus ") 
which had since the seventh century been employed as works of education, 
but which should rather be attributed to a monk named Valerius or Diony- 
sius, and surnamed Cato. The celebrity of these distiches, which were read 
and expounded in the schools, remained as great as ever all through the 
Middle Ages. They were more than once translated, paraphrased, or imitated 
in French verse during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and they were 
frequently reprinted in verse during the fifteenth century under the title of 
the " Grand Chaton," and again at the beginning of the sixteenth, by Peter 
Grosnet, under the title of " Motz dores du grand et saige Caton." 

There was also in the twelfth century another collection of proverbs, or of 
proverbial philosophy, which long had a great reputation in the schools, and 
which was several times translated into French for the use of the upper as of 
the lower classes, neither of which had much knowledge of Latin. This 
collection, known as the " Philosophers' Proverbs," contained a selection of 
sayings (sentences) in verse, most of which were apocryphal, attributed to the 
most noted personages of ancient times, and in particular to various Greek 
and Latin authors who were comprised in the category of philosophers. Thus 
Virgil, Ovid, and Horace appeared in this compilation between Moses and 
Solomon upon the one hand, and Homer and .ZEsop upon the other (Fig. 278). 
Afterwards these moral sayings were translated into French with the title of 
" Dits des Philosophes," but though they doubtless had some resemblance 
to certain passages of the authors to whom they were attributed, they had 
more in common, when moulded into verse, with the dialogue of Solomon and 
Marcoul, as the following lines, which claim to be an imitation of Juvenal, 
will show : 

"Tant vaut amour comme argent dure : 
Quant argent fault (manque), amour est nule. 
Qui despent le sien follement, 
Si n'est ames (aime) de nule gent." 

In the fifteenth century, Guillaume de Tignouville, Provost of Paris, in 
the reign of Charles VI. found time, amidst his other numerous occupations, 



tn make u fresh translation of the " Bits das Philosophes" in verse, with 
numerous additions, to which he appended biographical notices in prose 
of the philosophers, amongst whom he included not only warriors like 
Alexander the Great and Ptolemy, King of Egypt, but imaginary per- 
sonages, such as Simicratis, Fonydes, Arehasan, and Longinou. His book 
was a great success, for, in addition to the many manuscripts with 
miniatures, the printers of the fifteenth century published several editions 
of it. 

These different collections of proverbs, attributed to such famous men as 

Fig. 278. The Wolf cheating the Donkey. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving from the 
" Dyalogue des Creaturea" (Qouda, Gerart Leeu, 1482, in folio). In the Library of M. Ambroiae 
Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

Solomon, Cato, and the ancient Greek and Latin philosophers, may be looked 
upon as the fruits of scholastic erudition and literary invention, while other 
collections, which had an equally great success at the same period, seem to 
emanate more directly from the homely good sense and native wit of the 
people, with all their facetious and picturesque qualities. It is not necessary 
to mention more than three or four of these collections, whi^h, in spite of 

v u 


their immense popularity at the, time, were not, with one exception, reproduced 
by the printers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. They are, however, 
original proverbs, which owe nothing to the writers of Greece or of Rome, and 
which bear the Gallic stamp of our ancestors. The oldest of these collections 
is entitled, " Vulgar and Moral Proverbs." It is satisfactory to find that 
the six hundred proverbs which an unknown hand put together five or six 
centuries ago still display, notwithstanding the change which has taken place 
in manners, ideas, and even in language, a clear and plain text which, with 
the exception of a few differences in spelling, might be understood by the 
general body of modern readers. Some of these proverbs are : " Mieux vaut 
un tien que deux tu 1'auras " (A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush) ; 
" Ki donne tost il donne deux fois " (Bis dat, qui cito dat) ; " Ki plus a plus 
convoite " (The more one has the more one wants) ; " Qui petit a petit perd " 
(He who possesses little can lose little) ; " II fait mal esveiller le chien qui 
dort " (It is well to let a sleeping dog lie) ; " On oblie plus tost le mal que le 
bien " (An evil action is remembered longer than a good one). 

The second selection, which must have been contemporary with the above, 
seems to have contained more homely proverbs, expressed in blunter terms. 
This piece, entitled " Proverbes aux Vilains," is divided into unequal stanzas 
of six, eight, or nine lines of rhyme, and some stanzas comprise several pro- 
verbs, others only one. This collection forms a pell-mell of old saws which 
the people were very fond of repeating, and which enlivened them amidst 
their sorrows and labours. In order fully to understand the meaning of these 
proverbs, the tone of which is a mixture of grave and gay, it is necessary 
first to understand the proper meaning of the word villein, which was, as a 
rule, taken in bad part, as synonymous with coward, poltroon, full of envy, 
do-nothing, &c. The villein was the man of the people in the worst acceptation 
of the term, as the subjoined proverb will show : 

" Oignez villain, il vous poindra. 
Poignez villain, il vous oindra . . . 
Villain affame demy enrage . . . 
Villain enrichy ne connoist pas d'amis." 

The third collection does not date so far back as the two previous ones, 
though it consists of ancient proverbs in prose, with the title, " Common 
Proverbs," of which there are about seven hundred and fifty, arranged in 



alphabetical order by J. do la Veprie, prior of Clairvaux. Tbo name of the 
compiler is u guarantee iat the decency of these proverbs, and this perhaps 
was one of the causes of the success of this little collection, of which several 
Gothic editions appeared at the close of the fifteenth century. 

Fig. 279. A Court Jester. Miniature from a French Bible. Manuscript of the Fifteenth 
Century. In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

The "Dit de 1'Apostoile," which must be mentioned, though it is in 
reality a collection of popular sayings rather than of proverbs, is of much less 
ancient date, belonging as it probably does to the thirteenth century. The 



" Apostoile " (apostle) is the name vulgarly given to the Pope, and it is 
the Pope .who, in this piece of verse, decides as to the titles and epithets 

Fig. 280. Device of Louis XII., King of Fig. 281. Francois I., King of France (1515 

Franco (1498 1515). A Porcupine; 
with the Motto, " Cominus et eminus " 
(From far and near). This was the de- 
vice of his grandfather, who, in 139", 
instituted the Order of the Porcupine. 

1547). A Salamander amidst the Flames, 
with the Motto, " Nutrisco et extinguo " (I 
feed on it and extinguish it). It was the 
popular belief that this salamander lived in 
the fire, and could extinguish it. 

which are suitable to the principal towns of France and the different 
countries of Europe. These epithets accord with the origin, the customs, 

Fig. 282. Device of the Flemish Gueux (1566). A Wallet held by two Hands clasped, 
with the Motto, " Jusques a porter la besace." 

the physical position, the moral state, and the special characteristics of 
the town or country. The veritable physiognomy of persons and things is 



expressed by proverbial sayings, and this feudal society is faithfully repre- 
sented in this simple enumeration : " Concile d'Apostoile," " Parliaments of 
the King," "Assembly of Chevaliers," "Company of Clerks," "Beuverie 
de Bourgeois," " Crowd of Villeins," &c. We see that at that time proverbs 
were couched in a very few words, but those few expressing a great deal. 

The transition from these plain proverbs, which express some moral truth 
or ordinary idea, to the historical proverb (Figs. 280 and 281), which mentions 
some remarkable event to celebrate the name of any remarkable person, or 
contains an allusion to the special characteristics of a country, a province, or 
a town, is a very natural one. One might imagine that the people were bent 
upon writing in this concrete and striking shape the history of the facts 
which seemed worth remembering. 

The ancient proverbs relating to France are numerous, for there is 
not a town or a village which has not one referring to it. In the " Dit de 
1'Apostoile " are to be found six concerning the Flemish (Fig. 282), five about 
the Gascons, eighteen about the Normans, twelve about Orleans, thirty 
about Paris, and so forth. Each of these proverbs would afford matter 
for an interesting dissertation from the double point of view of history and 

We have already (see chapter on the Science of Heraldry) spoken of the 
heraldic devices and mottoes, but there are also a certain number of popular 
sayings which relate to the nobility of the ancient provinces of France. For 
Burgundy : 

" Riche de Chalons, 

Noble de Vienne, 

Preux de Vergy, 

Fin de Neuehatel, 
Et la maison de Beaufremont 
D'ofo sont sortis les bons barons." 

For Brittany : 

" Antiquitfi de Penhoet, 
Vaillance de Chastel, 
liichesse de Kennan, 
Chevalerie de Kergournadec." 

These are allusions to the qualities of the different places and families 

The proverbs relating to the names of men of undent or modern times 


have, as a rule, some satirical meaning: "Old as Herod ; " "Homer sometimes 
nods ;" " Hippocrates says yes, and Galen says no." 

But a better idea can be formed of the tendency of the French proverbs 
which were current in the Middle Ages, and which held their own almost 
intact until the middle of the sixteenth century, by quoting a few of them 
which, with slight alterations in spelling, are still in use : 

" A beau parleur closes oreilles. 
A chacun oiseau son nid lui est beau. 
A dur ane dur aguillon. 

Aide-toi, Dieu te aidera (God helps those who help themselves). 
Amis valent mieux que argent. 

A Dieu, a pere et a mattre, nul ne pent rendre equivalent. 
Au besoin voit-on 1'ami (A friend in need is a friend indeed). 
Besoin fait vieille trotter. 
Bon cceur ne peut mentir. 
Bienfaict n'est jamais perdu. 
Bonne vie embellit. 

Borgne est roy entre aveugles (Amongst the blind the one-eyed man is king). 
Gain de cordonnier entre' par 1'huis et ist (sort) par le fumier. 
Ce n'est pas or tout ce qui luit (All is not gold that glitters). 
Celuy scjait assez qui vit bien. 
De brebis comptees mange bien le loup. 
De nouveau tout est beau. 
Diligence passe science. 
La faim chasse le loup hors bois. 
La nuit porte conseil. 

La plus mechante roue du char crie toujours. 
Les petits sont sujets aux lois, les grands en font a leur guise. 
L'eau dormant vault pis que 1'eau courant (Still waters run deep). 
Tout vray n'est pas bon a dire (The truth is not always welcome). 
Trop parler nuit, trop grater cuit. 

Vin vieux, ami vieux et or vieux sont aimes en tons lieux (Old wine, old friends, and old gold 
are always appreciated)." 

There can be no doubt that proverbs were at one time much used in 
common parlance, and this must have lent an originality and a piquancy to 
conversation. The proverb, which represented, so to speak, general opinion, 
was perpetually recurring in conversation, which was animated by being thus 
impregnated with the personal thought of the speaker. Most of the proverbs 
originated with the people, but they were used by the nobles and the bourgeois, 
and they soon passed from conversation into writing, and were quoted by the 
greatest authors. 

Thus in the thirteenth century many sermons and many pieces of poetry 


began with a proverb, or even by several proverbs. The Trouvere, Chrestien 
de Troyes, commences his description of the Quest of the Holy Grail, in the 
romance entitled " Perceval," with the following proverbs : 

" Qui petit seme petit cuelt, 
Kt qui onques recoillir voelt, 
En tol lieu sa gemance espande 
Uue fruit a cent dobles li rande : 
Car en terre qui rien ne vault, 
Bonne semance i seche et fault." 

The same author also commences his romance of " Erie et Enide " with the 

" Li villains dist, en son respit, 
Qua tel chose a Ten en despit, 
Qui mult vult miulx que Ton ne cuide." 

The example of the celebrated Chrestien de Troyes was naturally followed 
by his contemporaries, and the author of the well-known romance, " Baudoin 
de Sebourc, third King of Jerusalem," terminates each stanza of his long 
poem with a proverb. He in his turn was imitated by several writers, and 
there are many pieces of poetry, dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries, in which the proverb recurs at the end of each stanza ; amongst 
others, in the " Complainte " of twenty-two couplets, which the Paris students 
composed, in 1381, against Hugh Aubriot, Provost of Paris, out of spite 
for his severity towards them, and also in the ballad against the English, 
which was written in verse by Alain Chartier (1449), after the capture of 

Another proof of the large place given to proverbs in the very best books 
is to be found in the old " Chronique de Rains," the author of which is not 
known to us, though of all the historic writings of the thirteenth century his 
are at once the most remarkable for their veracity and dramatic style. The 
author could not have witnessed the events in the reign of Philip Augustus 
and of St. Louis which he describes, yet he reproduces the true character- 
istics of the period when he typifies the principal occurrences by means 
of plain proverbs. After pointing out the imprudence of the King of 
Spain, who attacked the doughty Richard Coour-de-Lion, King of England, 
he comes to the conclusion that "taut grate chievre, que mal gist;" and in 



another part, when he represents Philip Augustus as having set out with a 
small escort, thinking that Eichard had not yet disembarked in France, 
he borrows from the " Dit des Villains " a proverb afterwards put in the 
mouth of Sancho Panza : " En un muis de quidance, n'a pas plein pot de 

Proverbs were applied to history (see Figs. 283 and 284), and they also 
had a large place in the comic theatre of the fifteenth century. The farce of 
Maitrc Pathelin, attributed alternately to Pierre Blanchet and to Franois 
Villon, abounds in vulgar proverb?, which add great zest to the dialogue. 
The lawyer Pathelin goes off with a piece of cloth, which the shopkeeper 

Fig. 283. Device of Louis, Duke of Orleans 
(1406). A knotted Stick, with the Motto, 
" Je 1'envy," a term used in the game of 
dice, signifying, "I utter defiance." This 
was meant as a defiance to Jean sans Peur. 

Fig. 284. Device of Jean sans Peur, Duke of 
Burgundy (1406). A Plane, with the 
Motto, in Flemish, "Hie houd" (I have 
him), which was a reply to the challenge 
of the Duke of Orleans. 

Guillaume is induced, by his specious talk, to sell him on credit ; but though 
he succeeds in satisfying even the judge that he had not cheated the shop- 
keeper, he is in turn made the dupe of a humble shepherd, whom he had 
taught how to hoodwink the judge, and obtain an acquittal for a robbery even 
more impudent than his own. The moral of the comedy is comprised in the 

" Or n'es'-il si fort entendeur 
Qui ne trouve plus fort vendeur." 

PROl'ERBS. 337 

It may be said of this farce, which was in great favour when first written, 
that each line is redolent of Gallic proverbs, and that for more than three 
centuries the people of Paris adopted the proverbial sayings which it contains. 
Moreover, most of the farces played by the Pont-Alais troupe, by the clerks 
of the Basoche, by the brotherhood of the Mere Sotte, and by other strolling 
bands, were full of common and vulgar proverbs which excited the hearty 
laughter of the audience. 

The proverb also prevailed in all kinds of poetry, and especially in 
that which addressed itself to the people. Frai^ois Villon, himself 
a true Parisian, bore this in mind when he inserted in his two "Testa- 
ments " a number of popular sayings and adages which had become, 
or were fitted to become, proverbs. Indeed, his ballads are, in reality, 
an ingenious paraphrase of the rhymed proverb which forms the refrain, 
as in the ballad "Dames du temps jadis," which contains the oft-quoted 

" Mais oil sont los neiges d'anUn ':" 
(Where are last year's snows ?) 

It is not surprising that Pierre Gringoire, who had long been at the head 
of the dramatic association of the Mere Sotte, before becoming herald of arms 
at the court of Lorraine, gave a large place to proverbs in all his works. 
Many of his poetical compositions are merely collections of rhymed proverbs ; 
amongst others, the " Menus Propos," the " Abus du Monde," and especially 
the " Fantaisies de Mere Sotte." This last collection, the best known of all 
terminates thus : 

" Femme est 1'ennemy de 1'auiy, 
Femme eat peche inevitable, 
Fcmme est familier cnnemy, 
Femme decoit plus que le diable. . . . 
Femme est tetnpebte de maison. . . . 
Femme est le serpent des serpena." . . . 

Prince Charles of Orleans, who was a court poet, and who composed 
nothing but ballads and roundelays for the young nobles and young dames of 
France and England, did not think it undignified to embody in them several 
popular proverbs, which were pearls picked up from the dungheap. Amongst 
others, he quoted the proverb 

x x 


" Jeu qtii trop dure ne vaut rien . . . 

II convient quo trop parlcr nui-ic. . . . 
Chose qui plaist cat a moilie vendue." . . . 

"When in the fifteenth century French literature began to abound with 
tales, stories, joycux den's, moms propos, paradoxes, and other works known 
under the general title of facet ies. proverbs naturally took their place in the 
list as being quite in harmony with the genius and tendencies of the people : 
so much so, that skilful prose-writers became rather too fond of embodying 
proverbs in their works, and many of these adages are enshrined in Antoine 
de la Sale's novel, " Jehan dc Saintre," and in the " Cent Nouvelles nouvelles," 

Fig. 2S5. Shoemaker fitting a Shoe. Copied after one of the Stalls called Misericordes in the 
Choir of Rouen Cathedral (Fifteenth Century). 

by King Louis XI. In the taste for proverbs the sixteenth century was not 
behind its predecessors, and poets such as Clement Marot and Antoine de 
Baif, narrators such as Rabelais and Noel Dufail, polemical writers such as 
Henry Estienne, and satirists like the author of the " Satyre Menippee," were 
very well versed in this science. The proverb, in fact, may be termed the 
passport of all true ideas, which, expressed as a proverb, assumed, as it was 
thought, a more striking and vivid shape, and became better impressed upon 
the memory. 



Looking to what took place in other parts of Europe, we find that pro- 
verbial literature was alike fruitful, though in each case the produce was of 
native growth, Spain and Italy being the countries whose proverbs have the 
greatest similarity to those of France. England had not so many proverbs, 
but those of English origin are specially remarkable for that Britannic 
humour which is not to be met with elsewhere, and which lends great ori- 
ginality to her proverbs. Such are : " If one knew what prices were going 
to rise, one would not need to be in trade more than a year ; " " Exchange 
is no robbery;" "God sent us meat, and the devil sent the cooks;" "The 
devil makes his Christmas pudding with attorneys' fingers and lawyers' 

Fig. 286. The Shoemaker and his Customer. Copied after one of the Stalls called Mistricordei 
in the Choir of Rouen Cathedral (Fifteenth Century). 

In painting, sculpture (Figs. 285 and 286), and in nearly all other 
branches of art were reproduced the figurative expressions implied by pro- 
verbs. Pictures, drawings, engravings, and tapestry were all employed in the 
interpretation of these proverbs, which were also to be found engraved upon 
the blades of swords and of daggers, and upon the helmets and breast-plates. 
Medals and counters were coined with proverbs on them, and they were also 
worn in the shape of embroidered sashes and scarfs by persons of both 



sexes. They were inserted, also, in the stained-glass windows, and upon the 
carved furniture (Fig. 287), as also upon drinking-glasses and other articles of 
daily use. One of the rooms in Agnes Sorel's Chateau de Beaute was paved 
with squares of painted delf, upon which were inscribed witty proverbs. Many 
shopkeepers' sign-boards displayed proverbs suitable to their trade, and it was 
the custom of booksellers and printers to add a proverb to the tokens which 

Fig. 287. A Comb, made of Carved Wood, of the Fifteenth Century. Upon one side are Ihe words 
" Erenee en gre," and upon the other, " Ce petit doun." In the Collection of 31. Achille 
Jubinal. In the centre of the inscription is a puzzle, representing a flower, a flaming heart, 
and an arm holding a dnrt, with the two letters M. P. It was colloquially said of a passionate 
man that he wou'd kill a mercer for a comb. 

they placed upon the title-page of their books (Figs. 288, 289, and 293). 
Some of these proverbs were facetious, but most of them were of a graver 

There are to be found in several public libraries various collections of pro- 


Beneath this riddle is the following explanation : 

" Let us salute Mavy praying for Jesus on the cross ; 
Let us hope for his peace in oMr hearts. 
I have given my heart to God. 
I hope to gain Paradise, 
Praise be to God." 

Fig. 288. Riddle taken from the " Heures de Nostredame," printed by Guillaume Qodait, 

Bookseller at Paris, in 1513. 

verbs, represented by miniatures or drawings executed with the pen, and 
doing great honour to the talents of their unknown authors ; but we will only 
mention out of all these a curious collection of water-colour drawings 

Fig. 289. Token of Jehan de Brie, in the " Heures k 1'usaige de Paris," printed by Jehnn 
Bignon in 1512. This strange riddle is to be Irjnslated, " In vico sancti Jacobi, & 1* 
I.imace. Cy me vend et achete." 



Fig. 290. Drawings of Proverbs, Adages, &c. Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (No. 4,316, 
Fonda La Valliere, 44). In the National Library, Paris. 

executed by the Constable de Bourbon, at the beginning of Francis I.'s 
reign, and now preserved in the Paris National Library (Fonds La Valliere, 
Department of Manuscripts). This handsome book contains sixty-one 

" Dieu veult souventesfois permettre 
L'homme perir, qui dist : Je veulx, 

Quoy qu'il en pcut advenir, mettre 
La charette devant lea boeufs." 

Fig. 291. Drawings of Proverbs, Adages, &c. Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (No. 4,316, 
Fonds La v alliere, 44). In the National Library, Paris. 



proverbs illustrated with great ingenuity. He whom the artist has sur- 
nanied " Margaritas ante poreos " (a proverb taken from the Old Testament), is 
represented by a herd of pigs upsetting a basket of flowers (Fig. 290), with 
the French distich 

rai-ons qui sont mal entendues 
Kcssemblunt flours u pourceaux estendues." 

" Je snis Fauvean qui desire 4 toute heure 
Eetre r-,i i i ii, ct derant et darriere. 
De m'eBtriller qui ne sect 1 1 maniore 
A coup pert temps et trop en vain labeure." 

Fig. 292. Drawings of Proverbs, Adages, &c. Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (No. 4,316, 
Fonda La Valliere, 44). In the National Library, Paris. 


Amongst the other striking compositions in this collection are those which 
relate to the following proverbs (Fig. 291) : "Tant va le pot a 1'eau, qu'il 
brise " (The pitcher may go to the well once too often) ; " Mai sur mal n'est 
pas sante " (Two wrongs do not make a right) ; " En forgeant on devient 
forgeron ; " "A petit mercier petit panier." Each proverb in this collection 
has a rhymed quatrain explaining the drawing. The inscription in verse 
which is placed at the foot of Constable Bourbon's portrait informs us that 
this collection, commenced during his lifetime, was not completed until after 
his death, so that it is a sort of monument raised by the poet and the artist to 
his memory. 

Fig. 293. Token of Michel Fezandat, Printer at Paris (1552), with a Proverbial Device 

attributed to Kabelais. 


Tho Origin of Languages. Decadence of the Latin Language. The Celtic and Teutonic 
Languages. The Rustic Language. Common Neo-Latin Dialects. First Evidences of 
the French Language. The Oath of Louis the German in 842. Laws of William the 
Conqueror. The Oc and Oil Languages. Poem of Boethius. Tho " Chanson do Roland." 
Fabliaux. The " Romance of the Rose." Villehardouin. The Sire de Joinville. Froissart. 
Influence of Flemish Writers. Antoine de la Sale. The " Cent Nouvelles nouvelles " and 
Villon. Hellenism and Italianism. Clement Marot and Rahclais. Ronsard, Montaigne 
and filalherbe. 

soon as a language has reached the stage 
of making the task of understanding 
it a difficult one, the dissolution of the 

social elements is not far off Babel 

is symbolic of the destiny of languages." 
We take this remark from the work of 
M. Francis Wey on the "Variations of the 
French Language," in which he points out 
that idioms, like everything else mortal, 
have their periods of rise and fall, and that 
a time arrives when they are rendered 

diffuse by neologism, or decomposed by the influence of equivocation. 
(3 The history of the confusion of tongues, as described by Moses in the 
Book of Genesis, might be looked upon as typical of what happened in Europe 
when the Roman people endeavoured to establish their dominion over all the 
lands which they had conquered by means of their language, which was to 
be the social cement of the whole nationality. " And the whole earth was of 

one language and of one speech And the Lord came down to see the 

city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, 
Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language ; and this they 
begin to do : and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they 
have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their 

Y Y 


language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord 
scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth : and they 
left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel ; because 
the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth " (Fig. 294). 

In the beginning of the fifth century the empire of the Caesars had 
become, like Babel, a vast ruin ; the Latin tongue, which since the Roman 
conquest and occupation had been the legal, religious, civil, and administrative 
language of nearly all Europe, was invaded by the barbarian tongues, as the 
soil was by the savage hordes which, from the heart of Asia, the extremities 
of German}', and the unknown regions of the North, poured in upon the 
Roman world. From this epoch dates the origin of the languages of modern 
Europe (Fig. 295), which were formed out of a mixture of the idiom of the 
invader with the Latin tongue, which latter had become too deeply rooted in the 
usages of ordinary life to be extirpated altogether. It is true that the classic 
language of Livy, Cicero, and Sallust was only spoken and understood by the 
upper classes of society, but the other classes used a rustic language which 
varied with the district and population, but which was derived from the true 
Latin tongue. This rustic language (lingua Romano) consisted of an infinity 
of dialects proceeding from one and another, and differing, some more, some 
less, from the mother tongue. 

The Celtic language also comprised a certain number of dialects, which 
existed amongst the Gauls at the epoch of the expeditions of Caesar, and which 
were, as he says in his " Commentaries," merely variations of the same 
language. Strabo also says that the Gauls everywhere used a single native 
language, merely modified by differences of dialect. Moreover, the Celtic 
language simply underwent certain modifications, under the influence of the 
Latin language, when the latter became exclusively the political or official 
language of the Roman colony. The Emperors established in the principal 
cities of Gaul, notably at Lyons, Autun, and Besancon, schools in which the 
Latin language was taught, and the most earnest efforts were made to pro- 
pagate it not only in the aristocratic classes, but amongst the people, who 
were more stubborn in the retention of their national idiom. This policy of 
the Romans was very successful. Not only did the Gallo-Romans lush into 
servitude, as Tacitus expresses it, but they took willingly to the language of 
their conquerors, with the exception of a few unavoidable errors of pro- 
nunciation and the introduction of a few Celtic words into the Latin 


vocubulary. In short, when the Bar- 
barians established themselves in 
Gaul, all the inhabitants, except a few 
country-people, had for centuries used 
a bastard liityit Itonxuitt. These Bar- 
barians imported new idiomatic ele- 
ments into this hybrid language, as 
modified by the Gauls, but they could 
not destroy it, and Latin remained the 
foundation or root of French. 

Moreover, the Gauls had no written 
history or literature, with the excep- 
tion of a few war songs and religious 
hymns, which stood then in room of 
national archives, and which were pre- 
served in the memory of the Druids 
and the heads of families. The Celtic 
language, not having received the 
consecration of literary works which 
would have insured its perpetuation, 
tended inevitably to dissolution and 
disuse. This law of dissolution had 

Fiir. 294. Construction of the Tower of 
Babel, in the Valley of Senaar, by 
the Descendants of Noah. Miniature 
from a Manuscript of the Fifteenth 
Century. National Library, Paris. 

probably taken effect by the time that the Franks, after their repeated 


invasions of Gaul, had at length established themselves in the territory which 
they had conquered. The men of letters, the ecclesiastics, and the patricians 
still spoke Latin, but of a very mongrel and sometimes unintelligible kind. 
Only those who had studied in the academies of Lyons, Vienne, Narboime, 
and Aquitainc were familiar with the principles of the language, and were 
able to write it without making any gross faults of grammar (Fig. ^ 

Fig. 295. Ihe Institution of Languages. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving of the " Margarita 
Philosophica Nova," Argiutoratum, J. Gruninger, 1512, in quarto. In the Arsenal Library, 

But the general language used was the lingua Romana, and in this vulgar 
tongue were written works of prose probably works of poetry as well which 
have not survived to our day. 

The Franks had such a great respect for the Roman institutions that, far 


from attempting to destroy them, they generally left undisturbed the political 
and administrative organization of the Gauls. This is why the Latin tongue 
continued to be under Prankish dominion the general language of the people 

<tpforalittr aortamur aamtumaa 
rranniMfuntroootmu nttrortfonl' 
Jf.<rpluralitrt norranwr norrmmo* 

r to f tpli'IatpTfrrto tmnam menus r fr 
fuiflV t.tpUiralttrr utinam t ortt t Ifr 

ar&ommswlaocrarf tomrf. tpfr 
wnnam ootramur o o tramtut rorranf 
Comunmuo IIIODU ttmpoif pjfftnt* 

1'ig. 296. Specimen of a page of the " Grammairc Liitine," by JElius Donatus, a grammarian of 
the Fourth Century. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving for the Xylographical Edition, 
published at Mayence, by Gutenberg. This Wood Engraving was preserved in the Library 
of the l)uc de la Valliere. 

(Fig. 296), and it was a more refined and learned language as spoken by the 
public officials, the clergy, and the magistracy. The Franks used the Teutonic 
language amongst themselves until they were converted to Christianity after 
the example of their king (Clovis). Thenceforward their regular intercourse 


with the ecclesiastics who instructed them in their new religion led to their 
learning the Latin language, and speaking it more or less correctly. Being 
endowed with a lively intelligence and ready wit, they were not long in 
acquiring a knowledge of a new language which recommended itself to them 
as having about it the halo of Roman greatness. 

In fine, the French language is composed of three perfectly distinct 
elements Celtic, Germanic, and Latin ; the last, however, being by far the 
most predominant. There are not more than a thousand words of Germanic 
origin in the French language, and far fewer of Celtic origin. Nearly all 
the rest are Latin, and it has been said with perfect truth that " French is 
merely a patois of Latin." 

From the time of Clovis the progress made by Latin was very rapid. The 
laws of the Franks, as of the other barbarian people who invaded the Roman 
empire, were written in Latin ; not, it is true, in scholarly Latin, but in what 
was called the sermo quotidianus, or every-day language, so termed because 
everybody understood and spoke it. It is true that the Teutonic language 
continued to be spoken by the Prankish tribes which occupied the banks of the 
Rhine and the provinces of Germania ; but the Franks under Clovis and the 
other kings or chiefs who had established themselves at Orleans, Paris, and 
Soissons, soon adopted the vulgar Latin as their language. 

The Jeudes, or great vassals, either out of indolence or pride, adhered for a 
longer period to their national language, and it was probably in use amongst 
the upper classes as late as Charlemagne's reign. The kings of the first race, 
in order to gain the sympathies of the Gallo-Roman population, nevertheless 
assumed to feel an interest in the progress of the Latin vulgar tongue. Thus 
two centuries earlier, the Gauls, who still spoke Celtic, endeavoured, according 
to the expression of Sidonius Apollinaris, "to rid themselves of the rust of this 
ancient language, in order to make themselves familiar with the graces of the 
beautiful Latin language." Chilperic I., King of Soissons, in the middle of the 
sixth century, plumed himself upon imitating in his speeches the rhetoric of 
the most learned Romans. He endeavoured to develop the study of the Latin 
tongue in his dominions, and as his subjects could not manage to reproduce 
the sounds of the Teutonic idiom with the letters of the Roman alphabet, he 
suggested the use of certain Greek and Hebrew letters which lent themselves 
better to the intonations of the Frankish tongue. Contemporary with him, 
Caribert, King of Paris, set up the pretension of being learned in jurispru- 

i. .\\arAGES. 351 

denco, and of expressing Limself in the language of Cicero with the eloquence 
of a true Roman. Bishop Fortunatus addressed him some Latin verses com- 
plimenting him on speaking Latin as if he had been a Roman born, instead 
of being of Sicambric origin. The poet added, " What must be your 
eloquence when you speak your mother tongue, you who are more eloquent 
than we ourselves in ours ! " 

But, for all these fulsome eulogies, there was scarcely, perhaps, a single 
person capable of writing and speaking classical Latin correctly in the Gallo- 
Roman provinces of which the Franks were masters, though the Teutonic 
language had been almost universally succeeded by the rustic or vulgar 

Gregory of Tours, whose " History of the Franks " throws so much light 
upon this remote epoch, confesses in one of his works (" De Gloria Confes- 
sorum ") that he was almost completely ignorant of the rules of Latin, and 
he admits to having frequently confused genders and cases, used the feminine 
for the masculine or neuter, and the ablative for the accusative, and neglected 
the rules as to prepositions. The text of his valuable chronicle, written 
between the years 573 and 593, is, as a matter of fact, full of inaccuracies, 
though the early copyists corrected some of the most glaring blunders out of 
respect for the memory of the illustrious Bishop of Tours. 

From the time of Chilperic to that of Charlemagne the true Latin 
language gradually degenerated amongst the Franks, notwithstanding the 
praiseworthy efforts of the monks to preserve it, as if it were a sacred ark, 
in their monasteries. Upon the other hand, the vulgar tongue, consisting of 
mongrel Latin and Latinised Teutonic, continued to spread amongst the 
population. Charlemagne, who spoke this language before he learned 
grammatical Latin, was much vexed at this decadence. What pained him 
the most was to find that bishops and other dignitaries of the Church were 
incapable of reading the Bible in the Vulgate. He accordingly instituted the 
Palatine School, under the direction of Alcuin, with the view of purifying 
ecclesiastical Latin. His peers and his barons, his leudes and his military 
officers, retained their Teutonic language, but his personal influence was none 
the less favourable to the preservation of the Latin tongue, which became the 
language of the Church, and which profited by the written works of sacred 

In addition to the literary Latin which was not used in conversation, but 


in books and public documents, there were only two general languages 
throughout the whole of Charlemagne's vast empire Romance and Teutonic. 
The most ancient monument which we possess in the middle of the ninth 
century is the double oath which Charles the Bald, King of France, and 
Louis the German, leagued against their brother, the Emperor Lothair, took 
in presence of their armies upon the 14th of February, 842. It will be 
sufficient for present purposes to cite the oath taken by Louis the German in 
Romance, in order to be heard and understood by the army of Charles, 
which was composed of Franks and Gallo-Romans from Neustria, Aquitainc, 
and other Southern regions : " Pro Deo amur et pro Christian poblo, et 
nostro commun salvament, d'ist di en avant, in quant Deus savir et podir me 
dunat, si salvarai eo cist meon fradre Carle, et in adjudha, et in cadhuna 
nosa, si cum om per dreit son fradre salvar dist, in o quid il mi altresi fazet. 
Et ab Ludher nul plaid numquam prindrai, qui, meon vol, cist moon fradre 
Karle in damno sit." 

This was the vulgar tongue as spoken in the greater part of France at 
this period, and it is worthy of remark that nearly all the words in the above 
document are taken, disfigured in pronunciation or spelling, from the Latin. 
Thus the common language was rustic Latin ; the Romance formed from a 
fusion of Celtic, German, and Latin. This was the language of France, and 
the Germans called France " Latin " (Francia Latino), because this language, 
which was only a hybrid product of the Latin tongue, was spoken there. 
According to Luitprand, an historian of the tenth century, Gaul was always 
named Francia Romano, and a later writer says that this denomination was 
not given to France on account of Rome, but because of the Romance 
language spoken there ("sic dicta, non a Roma, sed a lingua Romana"). 
And this is how the Franks of Gaul came to be called Francs Latin (Latin 

Still the Gallic nobles, as the great lords of the soil called themselves, 
protested against this general invasion of the Latin vulgar tongue. The 
Emperor Lothair, son' of Louis the Mild, had steadfastly refused to learn 
Latin, even the vulgar tongue, and his father had endeavoured to preserve 
the use of the Teutonic language in his states by means of a decree to the 
effect that the Bible should be translated into this language, which had few 
representatives out of Germany itself. At the Council of Tours (813) the 
bishops furthered the intentions of Charlemagne's successor by expressing- 



their desire that the homilies of the Church should be translated simul- 
taneously both into Teutonic and Romance (Fig. 297). 

The Teutonic language none the less disappeared at the end of the tenth 
century, for Duke Hugh Capet, before he became the first king of the third 
race, during an interview with the Emperor Otho II., who spoke in pure 
Latin so as to make himself understood by the bishops, could only reply to 
him in Romance ; and the historian Richer, who was present at the interview, 
relates that Arnulf, Bishop of Orleans, was obliged to translate what Otho 

Fig. 297. King Robert, Sou of Hugh Capet, composing Sequences and Responses in Latin. 
Miniature from the " Chroniques de France." Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century, No. 3. 
In the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

said into the vulgar tongue in order that Duke Hugh might understand it. 
A little later, however, when Duke Hugh was upon the throne, the Bishop of 
Verdun was appointed to speak at the Synod of Mouzon because he knew 
Teutonic. The Romance or vulgar tongue had none the less continued to 
make its way throughout the western provinces which formed the kingdom 
of France, and it was tho language both of the nobles and of the people. 



William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, introduced it into England, just 
as Eobert G-uiscard, his contemporary, did into Sicily and Naples. William 
decreed that the laws of England should be written in French that is to say, 
in Norman, which was merely a dialect of the Romance language and that 
French should be taught in the schools before Latin. At Naples, according 
to an historian of the time, whoever was ignorant of French was held in very 
poor esteem at this essentially French court. One of the articles (No. 38) in 
the Laws of William the Conqueror shows what progress had been made by 
the Romance language at the end of the eleventh century to arrive at being 
transformed into the Langue d'Oil: "Si home enpuisuned altre, seit occis, u 
pennariablement essille. Jo jettai vos choses por cause de mort, et de 90 ne 
me poez emplaider : car leist a faire damage a altres par pour de mort, quant 
par el ne pot eschaper." 

The Romance, otherwise the Neo-Latin, languages are French, Provencal, 
Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Roumanic. They were formed at the game 
time, but under different influences with regard to pronunciation, and they 
are, in truth, all of them Latin issuing from different throats and looked at 
in different lights. It was poetry which, when emerging from the cradle of 
chivalry, inaugurated the creation of modern languages, for grammarians and 
rhetoricians do not make languages ; all they can do is to superintend the 
best use of its wealth when a language has been enriched by the efforts of its 
poets aad writers who employ it. Moreover, the two currents which carried 
the national idiom, without resistance and without admixture, into its two 
principal beds, the Oc language and the Oil language, had long been manifest. 
The one was the language of the poets, the other that of the troubadours and 
the trouveres, and the two languages, or rather the two dialects, both acquired 
simultaneously their relative perfection. The first literary records of the 
Provencal language are the poem of Boethius, " The Mystery of the Wise 
and of the Foolish Virgins," and several other poems anterior to William IX., 
Duke of Aquitaine (1071 1127), who has often been cited as the earliest of 
the troubadours. The first memorials of the French language, after the oath 
of 842 quoted above, are the Cantilena of St. Eulalie, the two poems in the 
library of Clermont dedicated to St. Leger and to the Passion, and the " Life 
of St. Alexis," which was composed about 1050. Next come the warlike 
epodes, called chansons de gcste or romans de chevalerie, and it was in this way 
that the Homeric epodc was one of the first inspirations of the Greek language. 


In these vigorous pictures of heroic life the qualities of invention, imagination, 
and national genius are most conspicuous, and there are signs of brilliant and 
sparkling style before the regular formation of the language. 

It is in the famous "Chanson de Roland" that is to be found the 
oldest type of the language, which, as M. Francis Wey has remarked, was 
still in its infancy. But this beautiful poem, attributed without sufficient 
proof to a trouvere named Turold, none the less contains many passages 
worthy to be compared with the Iliad. The following is the description 
which he gives of the death of Oliver, one of Charlemagne's twelve peers, in 
the Pass of Roncevaux, where Roland and his companions sustained the attack 
of the Saracen army : 

" Oliviers sent que la mort mult 1'anguisset : 
Ambdui li oil en la tcste li turnent, 
L'oie pert e la veiie tute ; 
Descent A. pied, a la tere se culchet, 
Formont en halt si recleimot sa culpe, 
Cuntre le ciel ambesdous ses mains juintes, 
Si preiet Dion que pareis li dunget, 
E beneitt Carlun e France dulce, 
Sun cumpagnun Reliant desur tuz humes. 
Fait li le coer, li helmes li embrunchet ; 
Trestut le core k la tere li justet. 
Morz est li quens que plus ne se demuret. 
Rollanz li ber le pluret, si 1'duluset. 
Jamais en tere n'orrez plus dolent hume." * . . . 

Henceforward the French language is an accomplished fact. It is the 
Oil language. It still clings close to Latin, from which it borrows some of its 
most ingenious and narrowly defined rules ; amongst others, the declension of 
words and adjectives, represented in French by the adjunction or suppression 
of the final s. This rule was not, however, generally adopted by French 
writers, but it is easy to see that it was pointed out and followed by some of 

The literal translation of these lines is, " Oliver feels the agony of death creep over him. His 
eyes turn in his head. He loses hearing and sight. Dismounts and throws himself upon the 
ground. Recites his mea culpa aloud. Joins his two hands and raises them heavenward. Prays 
God to let him enter Paradise. Blesses Charlemagne and gentle France, and, above all, his 
companion Roland. His heart fails him, his head droops. He falls at full length upon the ground. 
'Tis done, the Count is dead; and Baron Roland bewails him and weeps for him. Never on 
earth will you see a man more afflicted." 



them. It must, however, be said that as yet there was no such a thing as 
grammar ; every one spoke and wrote at his fancy, according to his instinct 
or tendencies, and the language was clear or obscure, heavy or light, accord- 
ing to the person that employed it. Even the spelling of words varied almost 
ad infinitum, and it did not occur to anybody to establish a regular system of 

The great romances of chivalry imported to the Oil language a sort of 
nobility, grandeur, and force very suitable to the epic style. But other 
trouveres, of humble origin no doubt, and, as such, more satiric and facetious 
than the poets who wrote the chansons de gestc, invented the Fabliau, the Conic, 

Fig. 298. Conflagration of the Bel-Accueil Prison. Fig. 299. Narcissus at the Fountain. 

Miniatures from the " Romance of the Rose." Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century. 
In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

and the Dif, which abounded in comedy and sarcasm. The vices, the defects, 
the passions, and the foibles of society, from the villein to the king, were hit 
off in popular poetry, much to the amusement of the persons portrayed. The 
language must have become richer and more supple for it to have been made 
the medium of such satire as this, which was couched in the familiar and 
even trite expressions in use amongst the common people both of town and 
country. As time went on it became more vivid, more pointed, more incisive, 
and more sprightly. Its best types are the various fabliaux, and also the 
" Romance of the Rose " (Figs. 298 and 299), begun by William de Lorris 


about 1220, and completed fifty years later by Jean de Meung, surnamed 

The " Romance of the Rose " was beyond all doubt a reminiscence of 
Provencal poetry, which for two centuries had charmed the populations of the 
South by the soft and gracious imagery with which it expressed the senti- 
ments of the heart. The Romance language of the South, the Oc language 
purified, perfected, and developed, might have become, from the twelfth 
century, the rival of the Latin, Italian, and Spanish languages; but the 
troubadours, who were dreamy and pensive poets, were too addicted to 
singing of love, of women, of flowers, and the enervating pleasures of earthly 
life. Their chansons, their tcnsons, their planets, &c., which were recited to the 
accompaniment of some stringed instrument, were imitated by the Northern 
trouveres, but with less monotony and more force. "William de Lorris and 
his successor added to the complimentary allegories and subtleties of the 
"Romance of the Rose" the satirical and sarcastic element, which was, perhaps, 
the outcome of the Gallic spirit. In short, the French language may be said, 
in this work of the thirteenth century, to have already acquired all its original 
qualities. The following description of spring may be quoted as a proof 
thereof : 

" En mai estoio, ce songoie, 
El terns amoreus plain de joie, 
El terns oil tote liens s'esgaie, 
Que 1'en ue voit boiaaon ne haie 
Qui en mai parer ne se voille 
Et covrir de novele foille. 
Li boia recovrent lor verdure, 
Qui aunt sec tant com yver dure ; 
La terre meismea e'orgoille 
Par la rosee qui la moille 
Et oblie la poverte 
Oil elle a tot 1'yver eate. 
Lors devient la terre si gobe 
Qu'el volt avoir novele robe," &c. 

William de Lorris belonged rather to the troubadour school, while Jean de 
Meung had more in common with the trouveres of the Artois, Picardy, and 
Champagne provinces, though the style of both, correct and full of elegance, 
was thoroughly representative of the Oil language, which at that time was 
almost in as much favour as Latin, though the latter still survived as a spoken 


language in the Universities. The Oil language had become so famous 
throughout Europe that Brunetto Latini, who was the tutor of Dante, 
wrote in French the encyclopaedia published by him under the title of " The 
Treasure." Dante Alighieri, to whom Brunetto Latini had taught the Oil 
language, came to Paris in order to complete his linguistic and scholastic 
studies (Fig. 300). 

Poetry had served to stimulate the progress of French, as it had done of 
all other languages, but, from the beginning of the thirteenth century, good 

u<?l-|7wu> qgntiflz, dx tntto Am* 

nonet t<rm 


tenfro tecotdtim 
f^nm ai/hci? 

ZMltten to le a^on 
<? no 

mb^ aterd Id |tem 

Fig. 300. Fragment of Dante's " Divina Commedia." Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century. 

In the National Library, Paris. 

prose made its appearance in France, with Geoffroi de Villehardouin's book 
on the Conquest of Constantinople. This writer, a man of little education, 
who wrote with great facility and precision, and who used the true historic 
language, was a noble and a warrior, and he was the first to bring out the 
real qualities of the French language in his description of what took place 
during the Crusade of 1202, at which he was present. This crusader, a native 
of Champagne, attained perfection almost at a bound ; and the Sire de Joinville, 



who half a century later narrated the Crusades of St. Louis, did not, perhaps, 
equal him, though he could command the use of a vocabulary much richer 
and more supple. The reign of Louis saw the formation of a polite society, 
in which the language, while becoming more variegated, more incisive, and 
more abundant, preserved its early simplicity and grace. The Sire de Join- 
ville's sly good-humour makes him the pleasantest and most attractive tale- 
teller of the Middle Ages. 

The French language, which was spoken all over Europe, and even in the 
East, during the thirteenth century, but which was more especially the 

Fig. 301. The Three Virtues (Reason, Uprightness, and Justice) urge Christina de Pisan to write 
a Book of Ethics for the Instruction of Ladies. Miniature from the " Livre dos Vertus," 
unpublished Manuscript, dating from 1405. In the Library of M. Amhroise Firmin-Didot, 

privileged language of the courts, could not avoid declining in the following 
century, even though that century possessed such a distinguished writer aa 
Jean Froissart. This chronicler, in the opinion of M. Francis Wey, who is, 
perhaps, a little severe upon him, was endowed with the instinct of his art, 
was clever without elevation of thought and without discernment, seeking for 
effect rather than to excite emotion, narrating trifles with tedious prolixity, 


and not imposing any check upon his style, which is often heavy and diffuse. 
The tendency of the language was to become turgid and monotonous. 

The usurpation of the Flemish writers into all branches of French litera- 
ture was not favourable to the latter, which, becoming affected and involved, 
finally lapsed into pedantic and fallacious verbosity. Christina de Pisaii 
(Fig. 301), the historiographer of Charles V., set the example of this fictitious 
pathos, but she was very soon outdone by the historians of the court of 
Burgundy, George Chastelain, Olivier de la Marche, and Molinet. Jean 
d'Auton, the chronicler of Louis XII., appears to have been more than any 
other writer responsible for the involved style which formed the Gordian 
knot of the French language. 

Antoine de la Sale, a pleasant chronicler of the court of Burgundy, did 
not -in any way contribute to tighten this knot, though he did not cut it ; and 
his romance, " Petit Jehan de Saintre," must have been a welcome change to 
the reader after he had perused so many compilations written in a style at 
once pretentious and .involved. Antoine de la Sale wrote French, and this 
remark applies with even greater truth to the authors of the " Cent Nouvelles 
nouvelles," who seemed to descend in a direct line from the ancient troiiveres 
who had set to rhyme so many joyous fabliaux. The French language, spoilt 
by too much erudition, once more recovered its original force, when put in 
the mouth of the people at large by a poet who drew from his own inspira- 
tion, without the aid of Latin words or of declamation, eloquence of a simple 
and natural kind. This was Francois Villon, who writes the language of the 
" Romance of the Rose," only with greater force and boldness. "While he 
was restoring to its place of honour the language of Paris, a statesman and a 
courtier, Philippe de Comines, was preparing Memoirs which are a perfect 
model of the grave, sustained, and philosophical language of history. As 
M. Francis "Wey remarks, "The Seigneur of Argeiiton writes in a style 
which is flexible, precise, ample, and nervous ; his language seems entirely 
modern, and, excepting a few differences in spelling and a few obsolete words, 
separated by only a few years from the reign of Henry IV." Yet there was 
nearly a century between Philippe de Comines and the King of Navarre. 

During the reign of Francois I. there was a tendency to imitate the 
Italian, and for a hundred years this tendency prevailed, but at the same time 
the language was fortified by its continuous contact with Greek and Latin. 
Rabelais satirizes in "Pantagruel" this abuse of Latiiiism, which Gcoffroy 


Tory had previously condemned by his denunciation of the " skimmers of 
Latin " in the preface to " Champfleury," which contains an " exhortation to 
set the French language in good order, so as to speak with elegance in good 
and wholesome French" (Fig. 302). Rabelais, while very justly ridiculing 
the jargon of the French students, was not himself sufficiently on his guard 
against erudition of style, but he none the less raised to the highest degree of 
perfection the language of the sixteenth century. Clement Marot and like 
poets of his school, Bonaventure des Periers and others, sought their models, 
as Francois Villon had done, in the authors of the thirteenth century, and 
they were the custodians of the real French language, clear and transparent, 
precise and correct, elegant and witty. Calvin and several Protestant writers 
belong to this school, but their style was harder, colder, and somewhat 

The sixteenth century teems with chefs-d'oeuvre of every kind, but the 
finest productions of French genius are tainted with Neologism, Hellenism, 
and Latinism, and the courtier-like and Italianised language, as Henri Estienne 
termed it in his treatise upon this subject, permeated from the court of the 
Yalois into the spoken rather than into the written language. For the most 
part it was the poets and the best of them into the bargain who, owing to 
their affection for Greek, Latin, and Italian, became the demolishers and 
ravagers of the French language. Ronsard and the Pleiade were the main 
promoters of this deplorable change. (See below, chapter on National Poetry.) 
The prose-writers, on the other hand, set themselves against this sacrilege, 
and resolutely remained French. Historians such as Blaise de Montluc, 
humanists like Amyot, polemists like Henri Estienne, narrators like Bona- 
venture des Periers and Noel du Fail, and moralists like Montaigne, show 
that the French language was still known in France. 

But the worst enemies of the French language were the reformers of 
grammar and spelling, Jacques Pelletier, Louis Meigret, and Pierre Ramus. 
These extravagant philosophers, who wanted to change the whole system of 
language, were far more absurd than the Limoges student of Geoffrey Tory 
and of Rabelais, and the good sense of the general public prevented them 
from making many proselytes. What little success they did obtain was 
neutralised soon afterwards by Montaigne and Malherbe. Of the former M. 
Francis Wey says, " His was a wit at once unrestrained, undulating, and 
various ; his genius was supple, disdained iinj>erious doctrines, and was pro- 

3 A 


foundly imbued with Roman thought, a subtle and tempered savour of which 
pervaded .his style. His erudition as a philosopher invigorated his genius 
and his style; his independence, unfettered and yet flexible in its course of 
action, preserved him from imitative servility ; a painter of the human mind, 
he knew no model but nature, and could only speak the language which 
corresponded with his thoughts. He expressed that language without trans- 
lating it." Montaigne is, in fact, the writer who, before Pascal's time, made 
the best and most remarkable use of the French language. 

Malherbe seems to have made it his task to free the language from the 
servitude of Italianism and Hellenism. He did his work with unbending 
sternness, and he restored to poetry its national characteristics, while main- 
taining it in the regions of the most majestic lyrism. To him we owe French 
verse which possessed the primordial features of the French language purity, 
clearness, and truth. But Henry IV. did more than any one else to renovate 
the old French language and French wit ; for that king, who hated affecta- 
tion and despised Greek and Latin pathos, was the personification of common 
sense. He thought like a philosopher, spoke like a soldier, and wrote at once 
like Brantome and Amyot. The French language, which tended to become 
Italian under the Valois, was being made Spanish during the League ; but it 
once more became essentially French under Henry IV. 

Fig. 302. The Broken Jar. Token of Geoffrey Tory, Bookseller, at Paris, in the first Edition 
of his " Champfleury," 1529, small folio. 


Origin of the Name Romance. Greek and Latin Romances. The Discussion of the Savants as to 
the first French Romances. These Romances were the Emanation of Popular Songs and 
Latin Chronicles. Ancient Romances in Prose and Rhyme. The Three Matercs (Metres) of 
the Chansons de Gate. Their Classification. Manuscripts of the Jugglers. Assemblies and 
Trouveurs. The " Chanson de Roland." Progress of Somancerie (Ballad Songs) during the 
Crusades. Breton Romances. Tristan. Lancelot. Merlin. The Holy Grail. 
Decadence of Romances in the Fourteenth Century. Remodelling of the Early Romances. 
The Short Romances of the Fifteenth Century. Romance Abroad. The " Amadis." 

I OVELS and romances, or works of imagination 
of a similar character, were in great demand 
in Greece and Rome, especially among those 
who had no business occupation, and who 
read for amusement rather than for instruc- 
tion. The name romance (which meant a 
work written in the Romance tongue) was 
not used until the eleventh or twelfth cen- 
tury, and with a very different meaning 
from that which now attaches to it. 

The ancient Latin and Greek romances 

were merely recitals of imaginary occurrences. The "Satire " of Petronius and 
the " Golden Ass" of Apuleius were doubtless imitated very frequently in the 
Roman literature of the time of the Caesars, but it is in the literature of Greece 
that we must look for the progress of a literary school which long held its sway 
at Constantinople, and throughout the empire of the East. Achilles Tatius 
of Alexandria set up the model for this kind of book when he composed the 
" Loves of Clitophon and Leucippe " in the third century, and he was suc- 
ceeded by Heliodorus, Bishop of Tricca, in Thessaly, who wrote the " Loves of 
Theagcnes and of Chariclea," and Longus, who wrote the " Loves of Daphnis 
and Chloe." The last named was unequalled for its simplicity and grace, and 


stood far above the love romances published by Theodore Prodromes, Nicetas 
Eugenianus, and a number of other writers in the twelfth century. 

The Middle Ages, however, cared little for stories of profane love and 
works of pagan origin, but in the eighth century St. John Damascenus 
composed in Greek a sort of romance of mystic love concerning the legend 
of St. Barlaam and Josaphat, King of India, and this fabulous story was so 
warmly welcome that it was translated into every language. We must then 
come down to the twelfth century to find any fabulous stories written in Latin 
which can be connected with the literature of romance ; as, for instance, the 
"Romance of the Seven Sages" (Septem Sapientes), translated or imitated 
from the Hebrew by a monk of the Abbey of Haute-Selve, and the celebrated 
compilation entitled "Gesta Romanorum." "When these two works appeared, 
the name of romance was already given to the chansons de gcste and other 
stories of chivalry, of wonderland, or of religion, which were written in 
" Romance " verse or in " Romance " prose. 

For nearly half a century the most gifted scholars of France, Germany, 
and Belgium have been endeavouring to trace the origin of the old French 
romances, and M. Paulin Paris, more especially, has elucidated this question 
better than any one else by being the first to publish the early text of some of 
these romances. His system, which appears to us the most logical and the 
most satisfactory, has been discussed and opposed by such men as Michelet, 
Edgar Quinet, and Leon Gautier ; yet the last named, great as is his expe- 
rience on such a subject, could only retard the solution of the literary and 
historic problem which his predecessor, M. Paulin Paris, had all but solved. 
We propose, therefore, to sum up the opinions given by so many learned 
disputants, and to endeavour to draw from them some logical conclusion. 

According to M. Gautier's system, which is based upon great erudition, 
the chansons de geste and the romances of chivalry, invented and set to verse 
by the jugglers in the twelfth century, had their origin in the popular songs 
and Teutonic cantilena. But M. Gautier could not discover these cantilen, 
or original songs, in the Germanic language. He cites only one, which he 
calls the Cantilena of Hildebrand, and which has nothing in common with the 
chansons de geste, inasmuch as it makes mention of Odoacer, King of the 
Heruli, at the end of the fifth century. He also mentions a popular song of 
the seventh century, which the Bishop of Meaux, Hildegaire, has collated 
and translated into Latin in his " Life of St. Faron," and which is supposed 


to have boon composed in Romance to celebrate the victory of Clotaire II. 
over the Saxons. Finally, he mentions a very beautiful Teutonic song about 
the battle which Louis III., son of Louis the Stammerer, fought against the 
Normans at Saucourt in 881. But M. Gautier is obliged to confess that these 
Teutonic cantilenae, which were believed to be the germ of the chnmom de geste 
of the twelfth century, are no longer in existence, confining himself to the 
supposition that they did at one time exist, because Eginhard relates in his 
Chronicles that Charlemagne gave strict orders that the old songs (antiquissima 
i-iirmina), in which were celebrated the mighty deeds and wars of ancient 
times, should be collected and transcribed. 

The existence of these old popular songs is beyond all question, but those 
which Charlemagne had collected were only preserved in the memory of the 
inhabitants of Gaul by being translated into the rustic or Romance tongue. 
Thus the Anglo-Norman poet, Robert Wace, in his " Roman du Rou," recalls 
in the following lines the primitive chansons de geste which were sung, pre- 
viously to the battle of Hastings, in the presence of the army of William the 
Conqueror : 

" Taillefer qui mult Men cantoit 
Sur un cheval qui tost aloit 
Devant eus s'en alloit cantant 
De Callemaine et de Reliant 
Et d'Olivier et des vassaux 
Qui morurent k Rainschevaux." 

Here was the veritable origin of the " Chanson de Roland," which is rightly 
regarded as the oldest of the chamom de geste which were composed into 
Romance. That it is formed of an aggregation of various popular songs which 
had already been romanced that is to say, written in the vulgar or Romance 
tongue is very probable ; but it is impossible to believe that the chansons de 
r/cstc relating to the reign of Charlemagne and his successors, excepting, 
perhaps, the famous "Garin le Loherain," were composed by French jugglers 
after Teutonic cantilena;. It was undoubtedly the popular songs in the 
Romance language which were the preludes of the chansons de geste and the 
great romances cf chivalry. But, as M. Paulin Paris has proved to demonstra- 
tion, these popular songs had first given birth to histories and chronicles 
written in Latin, which were the principal source of the rhymed romances. 

It may be affirmed, for instance, that the Latin Chronicle of Nennius, the 



" History of the Bretons," and the " Life of Merlin/' written in Latin by 
Geoffrey of Monmouth, were the materials used by Wace in his romances of 
the "Rou" and of the "Brut," as also by Robert de Borron in his romance, 
"Joseph of Arimathea," and by the anonymous author of the "St. Graal." 
Then, too, there is the Latin Chronicle attributed to Archbishop Turpin of 
Rheims. This spurious Chronicle is in two parts : the first, consisting of five 
chapters, was written by a monk of Compostello in the middle of the eleventh 
century ; the second, beginning at Chapter VI., is the work of a monk of 
St. Andrew of Vienna, who wrote between the years 1109 and 1119. Such, at 

Fig. 303. Joshua, King David, and Judas Maccabseus. From a Series of Ancient Engravings, 
representing the Nine Heroes of Sacred, Ancient, and Modern History, who figure in the 
Komance, " Le Triomphe des Neuf Preux." These Coloured Drawings, apparently of the 
Fifteenth Century, form the Frontispiece of a Manuscript in the Colbert Room, National 
Library, Paris. 

least, are the conclusions arrived at by M. Gaston Paris. This Chronicle at 
once acquired such celebrity that five or six prose translations were made, 
and this was the source from which the jugglers obtained much of their lore. 
Chrestien de Troyes, the beginning of whose romances is here appended, 
intimates that he has merely put into verse a rose romance : 

" Chrestiens qui entent et paine 
A rimoier le meillor conte 
Par le commandement le Comte 



Qu'il soil contcz en cort royal : 

Ce est li contes de Oraal 

Dont li quens li bailla le livre," &o. 

Claude Fauchet, in his " Rccueil do 1'Origine de la Langue et Poesiefran- 
9oise," from which these lines are taken, adds, " This shows that some of the 
romances were written in prose before being rhymed." M. Gautier, there- 
fore, is in error when he asserts that the romances in prose date only from the 
fifteenth century; on the contrary, it is certain that the prose versions were 
contemporary with those in rhyme. Claude Fauchet was of opinion that the 

Fig. 304. Imaginary Election of St. Peter as Pope. " St. Pol kissed the body of St. Peter in the 
prison at Antioch, and, at the request of the two Apostles, Our Lord restored to life the son of 
a King who had been dead more than fifteen years ; and henceforward St. Peter was seated 
in the chair as Pope and true Lieutenant of God upon earth, and held the seat as Pope for 
the term of eight years holily." In the division to the left is seen St. Peter being tonsured 
by the " tirans," and this is erroneously said to bo the origin of the ecclesiastical tonsure. 
Miniature of the " Sainte Escripture." Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. In the 
Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

printed romances of his day, such as "Lancelot du Lac," " Tristan," and others, 
were rewritten after the old prose and verse editions. We know that the 
in rhyme were sung, or rather recited, to the sounds of some instru- 


merit, while the prose romances were merely read or narrated without a 
musical accompaniment of any kind, and rhyme must naturally have been 
better adapted than prose to the chansons de geste during the most flourishing 
period of romances ; that is to say, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. 

M. Paulin Paris has set forth very clearly the reasons why the name of 
romance (romaii) was given in France to the narratives of chivalry before it 
became the special name for a whole branch of literature. For some time it 
had been the custom throughout France to talk Romance, but it was not until 
the close of the eleventh century that any attempt was made to write in 
Romance : whatever was thus written in the vulgar tongue was Romance. 
M. Paulin Paris adds, " In this way the same generic name was retained for 
all these writings. There were romances of the Bible (Fig. 303), romances 
of the Crusades, romances of King Arthur, romances of the Virgin, romances 
of the Saints (Fig. 304), of the Passion, of the Image of the World, of 
Sallust," &c. They were for the most part narratives of warlike and wonder- 
ful adventures, which the French trouveurs and jugglers had told during the 
Crusades to all the foreigners who composed the armies from beyond the seas, 
and these foreigners in course of time gave the unique name of romance to all 
works of imagination written in prose. Dante, who could write and speak 
French, has himself fixed the meaning of the word at the end of the 
thirteenth century in the line 

" Versi d'amore, prose di romanzi." 

Thus the romances in prose were as numerous as those in verse when Dante 
came to Paris to study the language of Oil. 

The jugglers had, from the thirteenth century, divided romances into 
three categories, which proceeded from three distinct sources : the romances 
of Charlemagne, the romances of the Round Table, and the romances of 
Greek and Roman antiquity. These three categories of romances are thus 
designated in the " Song of the Saxons : " 

" Ne sont que trois materes a tout home entendant : 
De France, de Bretagne et de Rome la Grant, 
Et de ces trois materes n'i a nule semblant. 
Li conte de Brelagne sont et vain et plaisaut, 
Cil de Eome sont suge et de sens apparent, 
Oil de Franeu sont voir (vrais)." . . . 



Hut each of those matters comprised a number of different subjects, which 
corresponded with one another by a succession of homogeneous and analogous 
facts. They were so many cycles forming one vast whole, in which were 
"rouped personages of the same race and of the same character. The three 
principal cycles of the Geste in France, for instance, were those which had 

Fig. 306. A Compiler. Miniature from a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. 
In the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

for their central figures Charlemagne, William of Orange, and Renaud dc 
Jlontiiuban, us is indicated by the following line from the romance of 
" Girars dc Yiane : " " H'ot que trois Gestes en France la garnie." A gest* 

3 B 


may be compared to a tree of ancient growth, the branches of which spread 
out in all directions from the mother trunk ; and each of these branches, 
grafted thereupon, gave birth to new branches. 

M. Gautier has classed in systematic order all the romances in rhyme still 
extant which belong to the three great cycles of France, and the mere 
mention of them shows how rich French literature is in works of this kind. 
The"Geste du Roi," or of "Charlemagne," is divided into six parts: 1st, 
Berte aux Grans Pies, Enfances Charlemagne, Enfances Roland. 2nd, Aspre- 
mont, Fierabras, Otinel, Gui de Bourgogne, Entry into Spain, the Capture of 
Pampelona, la Chanson de Roland, Gaidon, Anse'is de Carthage. 3rd, Acquin, 
or the Conquest of Little Brittany ; Jehan de Lanson ; Simon de Pouille ; 
Galien ; Voyage to Jerusalem. 4th, Song of the Saxons. 5th, Macaire, 
Huon de Bordeaux. 6th, Charlemagne, by Girart of Amiens. The " Geste of 
Garin de Montglane," or of " William of Orange/' comprises no less than 
twenty-three or twenty-four romances, which, chronologically arranged, are as 
follows : Les Enfances Garin de Montglane, Garin de Montglane, Girars 
de Viane, Hernaut de Beaulande, Renier de Gennes, Aimeri de Narbonne, 
les Enfances Guillaume, le Departement des Enfans Aimeri, le Siege de 
Narbonne, le Couronnement Looys, le Charroi de Nismes, la Prise d'Orange, 
le Siege de Barbastre (Beuves de Comarchis, as revised), Guibert d'Aiidrenas, 
Mort d' Aimeri de Narbonne, Enfances Vivien, Chevalerie Vivien, Aliscanps, 
Rainoart, Moniage Guillaume, Bataille Loquifer, Moniage Rainoart, Renier, 
la Prise de Cordres, Foulques de Candie. There are but ten or eleven, 
romances in the " Geste of Renaud de Montauban," or " Boon de Mayence," 
viz. : Boon de Mayence, Gaufrey, les Enfances Ogier, la Chevalerie Ogier, Aye 
d' Avignon, Gui de Nanteuil, Tristan de Nanteuil, Parise la Duchesse, Maugis 
d'Aigremont, Vivien 1'Amachour de Monbranc, and les Quatre Fils Aimon, 
or Renaut de Montauban. The other cycles are composed of the following 
elements : Cycle of the Crusade : Helias, les Enfances Godefroi, les Chetifs, 
Antioch, Jerusalem, Baudouin de Sebourc, and le Bastart de Bouillon. The 
" Geste des Lorrains : " Hervis de Metz ; Carin de Loherain ; Girbert de Metz ; 
Anseis, son of Gierbert ; and Yon. The "Geste du Nord : " Raoul de Cambrai, 
Gormond and Isembart. " Burgundian Geste : " Girart de Roussillon and 
Aubri le Bourgoing. '-'Petite Geste de Blaives:" Amis et Amiles, and 
Jourdain de Blaives. "Petite Geste de St. Gilles:" Aiol and Elie de 
St. Gilles. "English Geste:" Horn and Beuves d'Hanstonne. Various 


: Sipcris do Vignevaux, Floovaiit, Charles the Bald, Hugh Capet, 
Boon do la Roche, Lion de Bourges, Florent and Octaviiiii, i^c. 

Fig. 306. The St. Mark Library, Venice, founded in the Fifteenth Century by- 
Cardinal Bessarion. 

A jH-rusal of the titles of these chansons de yeste and romances, some of 


which have not yet been published, and most of which contain from six to 
eight thousand lines, will give an idea of the extent to which the romance 
literature nourished from the twelfth to the thirteenth century. There are, 
in addition to the above, some twenty romances which belong to the Brittany 
cycle, and four or five very long ones which should be included in the cycle 
of Rome or of antiquity : amongst others, the " Romance of the Seven Sages" 
and the well-known " Romance of Alexander," begun in the twelfth century 
by Lambert " li Tors," and continued by Alexandre de Bernay. Most of the 
romances which are given above are in ten-syllable verse, arranged in 
couplets, or la! fuses, with assonances, which were not replaced by rhymes until 
the second age of romances. Many others, less ancient, are in lines of twelve 
syllables, called Alexandrines, because the first attempt to write lines with 
this. metre was made in the "Romance of Alexander." There are a few in 
lines of eight syllables, rhymed- in couplets, and this system of versification 
seems to have been applied, in the first instance, to romances of a more homelv 
kind, which, like the well-known " Roman de Renard," have the vivacity and 
sprightliness of the fabliau, and appeal more to the wit than to the imagina- 
tion of the readers, or, it should rather be said, of the listeners. 

The jugglers were very loath to part with the manuscripts of their chanson* 
de yesfe and romances, and it was not for some time that these manuscripts 
were to be found in the libraries of monasteries and castles. Many of these 
manuscripts, as one can see, have been copied from the original at the cost of 
some wealthy noble. The jugglers themselves were always eager to procure 
good romances, which they learnt by heart and sang in public, to the accom- 
paniment of the violin or the rote. Those who had the best repertory were 
certain of meeting with the most numerous audiences during their peregrina- 
tions through the country. These jugglers, although in the Middle Ages 
they formed one vast association, had many points of difference the one with 
the other, and preserved the distinctions of rank, which were dependent in the 
main upon their talent and fortune. Some of them would not sing other than 
national songs, and only condescended to appear in the houses of the great 
nobles. They travelled about on horseback, accompanied by their servants, 
received a warm welcome at the castles and abbeys which they visited, and 
were handsomely paid. Others, again, excited suspicion by their mean and 
hungry appearance, and were often ordered away from the door of the houses 
before which they halted to sing for their supper. It may be taken for 



granted, too, that their stock of songs \vas limited, and tliat they were a* 
little versed in the art of musie as of tale-tellers. 

Amongst the jugglers were a great many twmlili-in-x and tnnu-fin-x. The 

Fig. 307. Coronation of Charlemagne in the City of Jerusalem. Miniatures from the "Chroniques 
de Charlemagne," taken from Mnuuscript No. 9,066, in the Burgundy Library, Brussc-ls 
(Fifteenth Ctnlury). 

latter composed romances in prose and in rhyme. The asiseiiiblfurx (Fig. 305), 
though capable of writing in prose or in verse, more generally confine! them- 



selves to compiling the various episodes of a romance or of several romances, 
so as to vary the impressions produced 011 the audience. These assembleurs, 
like the Greek rhapsodists of Homer's time, modified the text which they 
intended to narrate or to sing, and they in many instances corrected and 
transformed the ancient romances when the language in which they were 
couched had become obsolete, and especially when the popular taste of the 
day called for the addition of some new ornaments. This is how it came to 
pass that the primitive text of many romances underwent changes of dialect, 
the existence of which it would otherwise be difficult to understand. Some- 
times an assembleur who desired to transpose the original into another dialect, 
or even into another language, simply changed the termination of the words, 
and so composed a sort of grammatical balderdash utterly incomprehensible. 
There still exist certain romances written in the Oil language which have 
been thus travestied by the jugglers into the Limousin and Provencal dialects, 
and even into Italian. The public library of St. Mark, Venice (Fig. 306), 
contains some curious manuscripts of these Italianised French romances, 
which are, while preserving the precise original form, neither more nor less 
than gibberish. 

Most of the romances belonged, as we have said, not only to the ancient 
popular songs in Celtic, Teutonic, or Romance, but also to the early legends 
written in Latin under the name of Cfesta. These two distinct but not incon- 
gruous sources are often to be traced in the romances of the first epoch, in 
which the author, in order to distinguish the two different origins, repeats 
either cum dit la Geste, or si cum dit la Chanson. The Geste soon acquired 
more influence than the Chanson, and nearly all the trouveurs felt no scruple in 
declaring that they had obtained their stories from some of the old monasteries, 
notably from the Abbey of St. Denis. This is the case with several romances 
relating to the history of France. In the " Enfances Guillaume," a genti! 
moine (a good-natured monk) is said by the author to have supplied him 
with the materials for his work, " Si m'a les vers enseignes et monstres." 

The author of " Berte aux Grans Pies " states even more explicitly that it 
was a courteous monk (moine coiiois) of St. Denis, named Savari, who 

" Lc livre as histoires me monstra.'' 
Moreover, the monks of St. Denis themselves composed fables which they 



declared to be original texts, and which the romance-writers, naturally 
inclined to credulity, accepted blindfold when they had occasion to quote 
them. Thus, exclusively of the spurious Chronicle of Turpin, which was at 
that time accepted as authentic, there were two or three old Latin poems 
upon the supposed conquests of Charlemagne in Spain and the East. One of 

Fig. 308. The Battle of Honcevaux and the Death of Roland. Fragment of a Stained-glass 
Window in Chartrea Cathedral (Thirteenth Century). 

these legends, which was composed during the eleventh century within the 
walls of the Abbey of St. Denis, contained the narrative of a Crusade which 
the great Emperor was supposed to have led himself to Jerusalem in order to 
reseat the Patriarch of the Holy City upon his archiepiscopal throne. This 



work, as well as the Chronicle of Turpin, served as a theme for several 
romances, which made the princes and lords who took part in later Crusades 
feel quite certain that Charlemagne had undertaken the journey to Palestine 
(Fig. 307). 

In any event, the authors of many of the early romances remain unknown, 
and it was not until the second epoch of this period of literature that the 
trouveurs appended their names either at the beginning or at the end of 
their works. Moreover, there is good ground for believing that the jugglers, 
who recited or sang the romances, were very chary of giving the author's 
name, as they very often claimed the authorship for themselves. The first 
romances preceded by only a very few years the period of the Crusades, and must 
have almost coincided with the inauguration of the feudal epoch, according to 
Claude Fauchet, who says, " It was at this time, I believe, that romances 
began to be written, and that the jugglers, trouveurs, and singers frequented 
the courts of these princes (grand feudatories of the crown of France), to 
recite and sing their narratives without rhyme, their songs, and other poetic 
inventions, using the rustic Romance language as well as that which was 
understood by more people." Thus we see that Claude Fauchet appears 
convinced that the romances in prose were anterior to the romances in rhyme. 
He even says in so many words, " If any of you believe that the romance was 
written only in rhyme, I will tell him that there were also romances not 
rhymed and in prose. For in the " Life of Charles the Great " (Chronicle of 
Turpin), put into French before the year 1200 at the request of Yoland, 
Comtesse de St. Paul, sister of Baudoin, Comte de Hainau, surnamed the 
Bastisseur, in the fourth book the author says, " Baudoin, Comte de Hainau, 
discovered at Sens in Burgundy the ' Life of Charlemagne,' and, when on his 
death-bed, gave it to his sister Yoland, Comtesse de Sainct Paul, who asked 
me to publish it in a prose romance, because many people who would not read 
it in Latin would read it as a romance." 

The rhymed romance of Charlemagne, which the translator of Turpin 
declared to be spurious, was apparently the famous " Chanson de Roland," 
which is attributed to a trouveur named Turolde, and which, according to 
M. Leon Gautier, was composed after popular songs of Teutonic origin and 
tendencies, while M. Paulin Paris and other learned critics believe that it 
belongs to the Romance or rustic language. The "Chanson de Roland" is 
a true French Iliad, full of lofty, generous, and patriotic ideas, and it may be 



trrnu'd the highest and most touching specimen of early French poetry. The 
predominant feature in it is attachment to the Catholic faith and to gentle 
France. When Roland is expiring from the effect of his wounds in the defile 
of Ronceraux (Fig. 308), his last look and his last thought are for France. 
Assuredly there is nothing German or Teutonic in this the oldest of the 
French romances, second in order to which was, we may fairly suppose, the 
original version of "Aliscans." These romances of the first epoch often 
began abruptly ; as, for instance, the " Chanson de Roland," the first two lines 
of which run 

" Carles li reis, nostre emperere magne, 
Set anz tuz pleing ad ested en Espaigne." 

This is a very characteristic opening for a popular song, in which it was 
necessary to explain the subject matter in a very few words. It is the poet, 
not the juggler, who has to make a direct appeal to the public whom he 
addresses, that speaks in these two lines. 

But nothing can give so good an idea of the early chansons de geste as a 
few quotations, and appended is the narrative of the death of Roland at 
Ronceraux (Fig. 308), where the nephew of Charlemagne was skin by the 
Saracens : 

" Roland sent que la mort lui est proche : 
Sa cervelle s'en va par les oreilles. 

Le voili qui prie pour sea pairs d'abord, afin que Dieu les appelle ; 
Puis, il se reoommande st 1'ange Gabriel. 
II prend 1'olifant d'une main, pour n'en pas avoir de reproche, 
Et de 1'autre saisit Durendal, son epee. 
II s'avance plus loin qu'une portee d'arbalete, 
Fait quelques pas sur la terre d'Espagne, entre en un champ de ble, 
Monte sur un tertre. Sous deux beaux arbres, 
II y a Ik quatre perrons de marbre. 
Roland tombe a 1'envers sur 1'herbe verte 
Et se pame : car la mort lui est proche. . . . 

A trois reprises, Roland frappe sur le rocher pour briser son epee : 

Plus en nl wit que je ne saurais dire. 

L'acier grince : il ne rompt pas : 

L'epee remonte en amont vers le ciel. 

Quand le comte s'aper^oit qu'il ne la peut briser, 

Tout doucement il la plaint en lui-meme : 

' Ma Durendal, comme tu es belle et sainte ! 

3 c 


Dans ta garde doree il y a l)ien des rcliques : 

Uno dent de saint Pierre, du sang de saint Basile, 

Des cheveux de monseigneur saint Denis, 

Du vetement de la Vierge Marie. 

Non, non, ce n'est pas droit que paiens te possedent. 

Ta place est seulement entre des mains chretiennes. 

Plaise a Dieu que tu ne tombes pas entre celles d'un lache ! 

Combien de terres j'aurai par toi conquises, 

Que tient Charles a la barbe fleurie, 

Et qui sont aujourd'hui la richesse de 1'Empereur ! 

. . . Et maintenant j'ai grande douleur, a cause de cette epee. 

Plut6t mourir que de la laisser aux Paiens : 

Que Dieu n'inflige pas cette honte a la France.' 

Roland sent que la mort 1'entreprend 

Et qu'elle lui descend de la tete sur le coour. 

II court se Jeter sous un pin, 

Sur 1'herbe verte se couche face contre terre, 

Met sous lui son olifant et son ep6e, 

Et se tourne la tete du cote des pa'iens. 

Et pourquoi le fait-il f Ah ! c'est qu'il veut 

Faire dire a Charlemagne et a toute 1'armee des Francs, 

Le noble comte, qu'il est mort en conque'rant. 

II bat sa coulpe, il repete son mea cttlpa. 

Pour sea peches, au ciel il tend son gant. 

Roland sent que son temps est fini. 

II est la au sommet d'un pic qui regarde 1'Espagne ; 

D'une main il frappe sa poitrine : 

Mea culpa, mon Dieu, et pardon au nom de ta puissance, 

Pour mes peches, pour les petits et pour les grands, 

Pour tous ceux que j'ai fails depuis 1'heure de ma naissance 

Jusqu'a ce jour oft je suis parvenu.' 

II tend a Dieu le gant de sa main droite, 

Et voici que les Anges du ciel s'abattent pres de lui. 

II est la gisant sous un pin, le comte Roland ; 

II a voulu se tourner du cote de 1'Espagne. 

II se prit alors a se souvenir de plusieurs chosea : 

De tous les royaumes qu'il a conquis, 

Et de douce France, et des gens de sa famille, 

Et de Charlemagne, son seigneur, qui 1'a nourri ; 

II ne peut s'empecher d'en pleurer et de soupirer. 

Mais il ne veut pas se mettre lui-mcme en oubli, 

Et, de nouveau, reclame le pardon de Dieu : 

' O notre vrai Pere,' dit-il, ' qui jamais ne mentis, 

Qui ressuscitas saint Lazare d' entre les morts 

Et defendis Daniel contre les lions, 


Saave, sauvo mon ame ot defends-la centre tons jii'rils. 

A cause des peches que j'ui fails en ma vie.' 

II a tondu a Dicu le gant de sa main droite : 

Saint Gabriel 1'a re<;u. 

Alore sa tele s'est inclinco sur son bras, 

Et il est alle, mains jointes, a sa fin. 

Dieu lui envoie un de sea anges cherubins 

t saint Michel du Peril. 

Saint Gabriel est venu avec eux : 

Ils emportent 1'ame du comte au Paradis." * . . 

" Roland " and the first romances were, as we see, essentially French 
creations, in which the trouveurs had embodied in a literary and dramatic 
form the scattered and uncertain traditions which were embedded in the 
memory of the nobility, and vaguely retained by means of the popular songs 
in the recollection of the lower classes. There can be no doubt that their 
object was to stimulate the warlike and patriotic feeling of the lords and 
barons of France who listened to them with such unfeigned satisfaction. 
It is thus easy to infer, by comparison of dates, that they must have come 
into existence at about the time of the first Crusade in 1095, and that they 
were imported into the East during the great Crusade led by Godfrey de 
Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine, and his brothers, Baudoin, Count of Flanders, 
and Eustace, Count of Boulogne ; by Hugh the Great, Count of Vermandois, 
son of King Henry I. ; by Raymond, Count of Toulouse ; by Robert, Duke of 
Normandy ; and by other chiefs of the French race. The heroic songs of the 
jugglers were well calculated to lessen the dreariness of the long and perilous 
voyage undertaken by the chevaliers, who remained absent for five or six 
years, and did not consider their task accomplished until after they had 
captured Jerusalem (1099). It was then that Godfrey de Bouillon, pro- 
claimed King by his companions in arms, converted Palestine into a Christian 
kingdom, introducing into it the laws, the language, and the customs of 
France. It may be said that from this period the chansons de geste and 
national romances obtained a foothold in this new France of the East, the 
residents in which were ever gazing westward. 

The romances, originating in France, returned thither with the crusaders, 
and spread at the same time throughout Europe, where their popularity 
increased from year to year. They became the fashion, and romances, 

* Translation of M. Leon Gautier. 


trouveurs, and jugglers made their appearance in all countries. The twelfth 
century was the great epoch of romance and of jugglery. There were several 
changes, however, in the style and fashion of the ancient romances, in propor- 
tion as the vulgar tongue underwent its successive modifications, and it would 
be difficult to recognise in the present day the ancient text when comparing 
it with the new. It would be not less difficult to assign a fixed date to the 
beginning of each cycle, all of which started from the primitive cycle of 
Charlemagne. There was an incessant competition between the jugglers, 
whose audiences were always clamouring for some new thing ; and it was to 
satisfy this demand that the trouveurs of the Oil language put into rhyme 
and prose the old Breton lays, and increased the already large domain of 
French romance. This was the commencement of the long series of Breton 
romances, otherwise called of the " Round Table," and which must not be 
confounded with the chansons de geste. 

M. Paulin Paris, whose opinions on these matters may generally be relied 
upon, holds that the chevaliers of Flanders and the Franche-Comte had 
previously to this gathered from the conversation of Breton jugglers, or from 
Latin books written upon the authority of ancient narratives, the traditions 
of the Celts and of the fabled kings of Armorican Brittany. There were, for 
instance, the stories of Tristan, son of a King of Leon, in Little Brittany, who 
was in love with his uncle's wife ; of King Mark, under the fatal influence of 
a philter against which all remedies were powerless ; of King Arthur, the 
Celtic Hercules, the husband of Queen Guinivere, the most beautiful and the 
most inconstant of women, and surrounded by a court of heroes such as 
Launcelot, Gauvain, Perceval, Lionel, Agravain, &c. For some time already 
the sham combats in which the young nobles learnt the rude art of war were 
called tournaments (tournoys), because the champions turned about in a sort of 
circular arena, while endeavouring to hit a certain mark, a movable figure, 
or a quintain, with their lance or their sword. The authors of the Breton 
romances represented King Arthur as the founder of chivalry and the creator 
of tournaments, and said that this valorous king assembled at his Eound 
Table the twenty-four bravest chevaliers of his kingdom, who thus formed 
his Supreme Court of Chivalry. These old Breton romances, in which the 
fair sex was assigned a more dignified and attractive part than in the Carlo- 
vingian romances, were, so to speak, the school in which were formed the 
rammers of chivalry, and which favoured the development of refined polite- 



ness. The sort of worship paid to women at this distant epoch, and the 
delicate attentions lavished upon them by the opposite sex, contrasted very 
strongly with the roughness and brutality of a state of society in which all 
misunderstandings between people of noble birth were washed out in blood. 

A succinct analysis of " Tristan " will give the reader a better idea of the 
characteristics of the Breton romance, which, according to certain critics, 
dates from an earlier period than the romances of the Charlemagne cycle. 

Fig. 309. Tristan at the Chase. After a Miniature from the " Romance of Tristan." Manuscript 
of the Fifteenth Century, No. 7,174. In the National Library, Paris. 

The principal action of the romance, which is the first in order of chronology 
as of merit, unfolds itself clearly, and in a way to enthral the reader's atten- 
tion, around three personages, whose physiognomy stands out in distinct 
relief. Mark, King of Cornwall, is a good prince and a man of great worth, 
the Ix'iiutiful Ysolt being his wife, and the valiant and poetic Tristan 


(Fig. 309) his nephew. A draught which the two latter have taken without 
meaning any harm deprives them of the power of obeying the voice of 
honour and of reason ; they fall violently in love, and the irresistible force of 
the enchantment which is upon them serves to excuse their fault. King 
Mark passes his whole time in watching them, in detecting them, and in 
forgiving them. One day, however, his anger and jealousy are too much for 
him when he discovers Tristan in the Queen's chamber playing the harp to 
her. He strikes him from behind with a poisoned dart (Fig. 310), given 
him by the fairy Morgana, but he is suddenly seized with terror, and retreats 
in silence. Tristan, though wounded, displays great courage in bidding 
good-bye to Ysolt, mounts his horse, and takes refuge with his friend Dinas, 
who receives him in a dying state. The poison has made rapid progress, and 
Tristan, notwithstanding the care with which he is tended, has become 
almost a corpse. His friends shed tears over his sad state day and night. 
The only signs of life in his motionless body are the piercing cries which he 
utters. The good King Mark has repented him of his cowardly act of 
vengeance, and regrets having surprised his nephew and wounded him. 
Moreover, the unhappy Ysolt does not attempt to conceal her sorrow ; and 
when she learns that her dear Tristan is dying, she openly declares that she 
will not survive him. 

Tristan feels that his last hour is at hand. He sends for his uncle, to say 
that he should like to see him, and that he bears him no ill-will for causing 
his death. King Mark, when he receives this message, exclaims, with the 
tears running down his cheeks, " Alas, alas ! Woe to me for having 
stabbed my nephew, the best chevalier in the whole world ! He then 
repairs to Dinas's castle, where Tristan, whose voice was very faint, said, 
" This is my last fete ; the one you have so eagerly desired to see." Tristan 
weeps, and the King sheds even more abundant tears, but consents to send 
for Queen Ysolt at his nephew's request. Her presence, however, fails to 
revive his failing forces, and she exclaims, " Alas, dear friend ! is it thus you 

are to die ? " Whereupon he says, " Yes, my lady ! Tristan must die 

Look at my arms ; they are no longer those of Tristan, but of a corpse " 

And Ysolt sobs by his side, praying that she too may die. 

The next day Tristan half opens his eyes, and, like a good chevalier, has 
his sword drawn from its sheath that he may see it for the last time. " Alas, 
good sword!" he says, "what will become of you henceforward, without. 



your trusty lord P I now take leave of chivalry, which I have honoured and 
loved ; but I have no longer anything in common with it. Alas, my friends ! 
to-day Tristan is vanquished." His tears hegin to flow afresh, and he kisses 
his sword, which he bequeaths to his dearest companion in arms. He then 
turns to the Queen, who, since the previous day, had been weeping inces- 
santly, and says to her, " My very dear lady, what will you do when I 
die ? Will you not die with me ? " To which she replies, " Gentle friend, 

Fig. 310. King Mark stabbing Tristan in the presence of Ysolt. After a Miniature in 
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, No. 7,675. In the National Library, Paris. 

I call God to witness that nothing would afford me so much joy as to bear 
you company this day. Assuredly, if ever woman could die of anguish or 
sorrow, I should have died several times since I have been by your side." 
" And you would like, then, to die with me ? " rejoined Tristan. " God knows 
that never did I desire anything so sincerely." " Approach me, then, for I 
feel death coming upon me, and I should like to breathe my last in your 


arms." Ysolt leans over Tristan, who takes her into his wasted arms, and 
presses her so tightly that her heart bursts, and he expires with her, thus 
mingling their last sigh. 

The description of the beautiful Ysolt, as Luce du Gault, author of the 
prose version of the fourteenth century, makes Tristan himself trace it, will 
complete this touching story, and show what was the ideal of female beauty 
at this period : " Her beautiful hair shines like golden threads ; her forehead 
is whiter than the lily ; her eyebrows are arched like small crossbows ; and a 
narrow line, milk-white, dimples her nostrils. Her eyelids are brighter 
than emeralds, shining in her forehead like two stars. Her face has the 
beauty of morning, for it is both white and vermilion, each colour having 
its due proportion. Her lips are a trifle thick, and ardent with bright 
colour ; her teeth, whiter than pearls, are regular and of good size. No 
spices can be compared to the sweet breath of her mouth. The chin is 
smoother than marble. From her stately shoulders sweep two thin arms, 
and long hands, the flesh of which is tender and soft. The fingers are long 
and straight, and her nails are beautiful. Her waist is so narrow that it can 
be spanned with the two hands." There is nothing, perhaps, in the old 
French language so graceful and picturesque as these two prose romances of 
" Tristan " and " Launcelot of the Lake." 

The romance of " Launcelot " appears to be a fresh embodiment of the 
Armorican legends relating to Tristan. Launcelot, the son of the King of 
Beno'ic (Bourges), and nephew of the King of Gannes, falls in love with 
Queen Guinivere (Fig. 311), wife of King Arthur, and he deceives the latter 
in as great good faith as Tristan had deceived King Mark. M. Paulin Paris 
points out that there is a mixture in these two romances of the souvenirs of 
ancient Greek and of Celtic traditions. Thus King Mark has many points 
of resemblance with King Midas, and Tristan, in his expedition against the 
Morhouet of Ireland, is no other than Theseus, who slew the Minotaur of 
Crete ; while, when he dies reconciled with King Mark, the black veil 
attached to the vessel is also a reminiscence of the death of Theseus's father. 
In the romance of " Launcelot " the giant who asks young Launcelot riddles 
which he must solve under penalty of death is an imitation of the Sphinx 
which (Edipus faced upon Mount Cithseron. Launcelot at the court of the 
Lady of the Lake is Achilles at the court of the King of Scyros, and 
Guinivere, the wife of King Arthur, is Dejanira, who proved fatal to 


Hercules. There is something very singular in this invasion of the ancient 
Greek fables into the books of the Round Table. 

Fig. 31 1. Launcelot and Gn'nivere. Afier a Miniature in Manuscript of the Eleventh Century, 
No. 6,964. In the National Library, Paris. 

The " Book of Merlin " and the " Book of tte Grail," though contem- 



porary with " Tristan " and " Launcelot," do not come from the same source, 
and are not inspired by the same ideas. In " Merlin " the marvellous forms 
by far the largest element, and the author seems to have had always in view 

Fig. 312. The Enchanter Merlin, transformed into a Student, meets in the Forest of Broceliande 
the Fairy Viviana. Fragment of the Binding of a Book in Enamelled Metal- work of Limoges. 
In the Museum of Antiquities at the Louvre. 

the imitation of the Hible. The book, which none the less preserves the 


purest traditions of the Gallo-Breton legends, opens, like the Hook of .Job, 
with a council-meeting held in the internal regions by the spirits of darkness. 
S;it an declares that he cannot hope to counterbalance upon earth the influence 
of Christ, unless he can cause to be born of an immaculate virgin a man- 
demon. This man-demon is Merlin, who takes under his protection King 
Arthur, and who, after having rendered him great services, is buried alive in 

Fig. 313. Death of Joseph of Arimathea. After a Miniature from the " History of Saint 
GraU." Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. In the National Library, Paris. 

a stone tomb by the Lady of the Lake, who has inherited some of his super- 
natural power (Fig. 312). 

The " Book of the Grail " is an evocation of the old religious legends of 
Brittany. According to a pretended gospel, attributed to St. Joseph of 
Arimathea, the latter was said to have been the original possessor of the 


"grail" (Fig. 313), a sacred vessel in which the blood of Jesus, when He 
dic'd upon the cross, was received by the angels. This vessel, after having 
passed into the possession of Joseph's son and of his descendants, remained 
concealed for several centuries, when King Arthur and his chevaliers set out 
in quest of it, and the honour of its discovery fell upon Perceval, the Gaul, 
who found it at the court of the King Pecheur. The author of this curious 
romance, composed in the beginning of the thirteenth century, was the 
trouveur, Robert de Borron, who, in the opinion of several critics, was 
assisted by Gautier Map, chaplain to King Henry II. of England. 

The complement to the romances of the Round Table was the book which 
is known as the "Death of Arthur," as "Bret," and as the "Quest of the 
Holy Grail," and it is the least felicitous of them all. It was written by 
several authors, whose one object was to bring into it all the knights of the 
Round Table Perceval, Lionel, Hector, Palamede, Gauvain, Bliomberis, 
Mordrain, and others, and to represent them as engaged in unceasing battle 
with wild beasts, giants, and enchanters. It was not till the fifteenth 
century that the romance-writers lengthened the stories contained in the 
books of the Round Table by describing the adventures and deeds of daring 
of Little Tristan, of Meliadus, of Perceforest, of Constant, of Little Arthur, 
of Isaiah the Doleful, &c. 

The fourteenth century ushered in the decadence of the romances of 
chivalry. At the end of the previous century an effort hud been made to 
revive the popularity of these romances, which had been more than once 
revised and altered from their original composition, the cycle of Charlemagne 
and even that of the Round Table being no longer in vogue. Still less 
success attended the provincial cycles, as the Gestes relating thereto were only 
of interest to the inhabitants of the province in which the events described 
took place. Thus the graphic " Geste des Lorrains," comprising " Ilervis de 
Metz,""Garin le Loherain," and " Girbert et Anseis ; " the " Burgundian 
Geste," consisting of the two romances, " Girart de Roussillon " and " Aubri 
le Bourgoing ; " and other equally ancient Gestes, such as "Amis et Amiles," 
"Jourdain de Blaives," "Aiol et Mirabel," "Raoul de Cambrai," &c., no 
longer excited the enthusiasm of the hearers, who were out of patience with 
the jugglers, and did not care to receive them into their houses on account of 
their bad reputation. This bad reputation was in a great measure due to the 
misconduct of their confreres, the singers and the story-tellers, and though 


most of the jugglers themselves led respectable lives, their contact with the 
latter, who were nearly all thieves and drunkards, told very much against 
them. This, beyond all doubt, was one of the causes which brought about the 
decadence of romance as a branch of literature. 

The last features of importance in this branch of literature were the cycle 
of the Crusades and a few romances which appealed more especially to the 
pride of certain noble families which had been made famous by the wars 

Fig. 314 The Arming of a Knight after the Ceremonial instituted by King Arthur. Fac-similo 
of a Miniature from Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. In the Burgundy Library, 

beyond the seas. These romances, "Helias," the "Enfances Godefroi," the 
"Chetifs," and " Antioch and Jerusalem" (the latter two being merely 
extracts from the same poem), were recited in all the chateaux of France ; and 
the jugglers, proud of having won a fresh popularity, thought they could 
dispense with a musical accompaniment, and got rid of their instrument- 


players. The result was that the romances, being no longer sung to the 
accompaniment of the harp or the violin, but recited in a monotonous tone, 
became submerged in a mass of marvellous and improbable stories, and were 
drawn out to a wearisome length. Not only were new compositions with 
thirty or forty thousand Alexandrine lines brought out, but the ancient 
romances written in ten-syllable verse were recast, and the lines lengthened. 
The primitive work, thus disfigured, lost all its original qualities. The 
trouveurs who were writing for the jugglers succeeded, however, in opening 
a fresh cycle, which belongs at once to the history of Charlemagne's successors 
and to that of the Crusades. The romances of " Charles the Bald " and of 
" Hugnes Capet " were not more voluminous than the ancient romances, but 
" Baudouin de Sebourc " had more than thirty thousand lines, and " Tristan de 
Nanteuil " twenty-four thousand. The " Lion de Bourges," which consists 
of forty thousand tame and prolix lines, is a riot of the imagination in which 
there is no trace of the traditions relating to Charlemagne's epoch, which 
the writer professed to. portray for the last time. 

This was the death-blow to the jugglers, for they could not find any one to 
listen to the recital of these interminable romances. Nevertheless, as many 
of them turned copyists in order to gain a livelihood, the manuscripts went 
on increasing, and the longest and dullest of romances still found readers. 
But though the reading of romances increased rather than diminished 
amongst the wealthy and noble classes, with whom the taste for tourna- 
ments, jousts, and other games and institutions appertaining to chivalry 
(Fig. 314) grew very rapidly, only prose romances found any favour. The 
rhymed romances were condemned as a nuisance, and the consequence was a 
rapid transformation of them into prose. There was no lack of scribes in the 
palaces of the kings, as in the castles of the nobility, to undertake this work, 
and the anonymous author of the translation of " Aimeri de Beaulandc " gives 
as his reason for having undertaken the work that it suits the popular taste. 
In the preface to the prose version of " Anseis de Carthage " the actcitr, as he 
was called, openly states that he felt great hesitation and mistrust of his own 
person in transposing from rhyme into prose, " according to the tastes of the 
day," the achievements of ancient chivalry. 

The old romances in verse disappeared and fell into oblivion, but the prose 
versions, arranged according to the tastes of the day, tricked out with senti- 
mental and pedantic digressions, and lengthened with a mass of descriptions 



and dialogues, were twice as prolix, but were received with great favour. 
Many copies of them were brought out, and some of these copies, written in 
large letters upon costly vellum (Fig. 315), were ornamented with capitals in 
gold and colours, and with art istically painted miniatures. The libraries of the 
great houses were made up of these manuscripts, most of them in folio, bound 

Fig. 315. Copyist writing upon a Sheet of Vellum. Miniature from Manuscript of the Fifteenth 
Century. In the Eoyal Library, Brussels. 

in wood, with a covering of leather or some rich material. These enormous 
volumes, which could only be read from a desk, were much used by the ladies 
of the family, who, undismayed by the length to which these stories of love 
and chivalry extended, read from them every day. This was a very favour- 
able period for the romances ; nor was it the last, for, when printing was 
discovered, fresh editions of nearly all the romances made their appearance 


(Fig. 317). The text was much abridged in these later editions, and certain 
compilers, 'such as Pierre Desrey de Troyes, obtained for themselves a great 
reputation for this work, which exacted patience rather than genius. The 
romances thus revised had a great many new readers, especially among the 
middle classes, who had not before been able to see them. Chivalry, during 
the reigns of Charles VIII., of Louis XII., and of Francois I., seemed to 
shine with renewed brightness previously to its final extinction, and the 
romances which had heralded its triumph seemed, so to speak, to reflect its 
last rays. 

During the reign of Charles VII., and more especially at the court of 
Burgundy, writers of real merit and discernment endeavoured to create a new 
kind of romantic literature, appealing to persons of more refined and elevated 
tastes (Fig. 316). They wrote love-stories or satires which were not less 
remarkable for the grace and interest of the narrative than for the realism of 
the passions and sentiments depicted. These romances, put together in a A-ery 
plain but ingenious manner, were in as great favour as the more ambitious 
compilations relating to chivalry which it took two 'or three months to read. 
Antoine de la Sale furnished the model for works of this kind with his 
" Histoire et Chronique du Petit Jehan de Saintre," which was followed by 
the histories of " Parise et Vianne sa mie," of the " Chevaleureux Comte 
d'Artois," of "Ferrant de Flandres," of "Baudoin d'Avesnes," of "Pierre 
de Provence," of " Jean de Calais," and of " Jean de Paris." It began to be 
understood that the romance, discarding the marvellous and fantastic elements, 
might possess the most varied characteristics and become didactic, like the book 
of the " Sept Sages " and the " Cite 1 des Dames ; " sententious and instructive, 
like the " Jouvencel," by Admiral Jean de Bueil ; or satirical, like King 
Rene's "Abuse en Cour." Romance became satirical and philosophical with 
Rabelais, who at first, when he wrote " Gargantua," intended to satirize the 
romances of chivalry, and who continued in " Pantagruel " to criticize the 
customs of his own time. Nevertheless, the romances of chivalry continued 
to be in vogue until the middle of the sixteenth century ; but after that the 
modern romance, which is now only represented by a few insipid works, such 
as the "Histoire de 1'Escuyer Gyrard et de Damoiselle Alyson," the "Amant 
ressuscit^ de la Mort d' Amour," the "Amours de la belle Luce," &c., trans- 
formed itself into the Conte, or tale, after the fashion of the "Cent 
Nouvelles nouvelles." The " Heptameron " of the Queen of Navarre gave 



birth to the "Recreations et Joyeux Devis" of Bonaventure des Periers; to 
the " Discours d'Eutrupel ; " to the " Matinees " and to the " Apres-din^es " of 
Cholieres ; and, lastly, to the " Soirees," by Guillaume Bouchet. 

In the meanwhile the ancient romances of chivalry, all originating in 

Fig. 316. " How the Actor lost his way, and arrived in front of the Palace of Love, into which 
Desire bid him enter, while Remembrance held him back.'" Miniature from the " Chevalier 
Delibere," by Olivier de la Marche. Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, No. 173. In the 
Arsenal Library, Paris. 

France and bearing upon them the impress of that origin, had been trans- 
lated or adapted into every language since the thirteenth century. Not only 
in Germany, Holland, and England, but in Sweden, Denmark, and even in 

3 E 


Iceland. These translations and imitations, which preserved the generic 
name of romance, were, however, fashioned to suit the taste of the nation for 
which they were intended, though they still retained the characteristics of 
their place of birth. In Italy there was composed only one prose romance 
after the manner of the French romances of the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries ; but from this crude compilation, which was called " Reali di 
Francia," there issued a great number of long poems on chivalry " Rinaldo," 
" Morgante," " Orlando," " Guarino," &c. upon which the Italian genius 
lavished all the wealth of its poetry to disguise the extravagant and affected 
sentiments which it attributed somewhat too freely to the rude paladins of 
Charlemagne, and to the Christian warriors who took part in the Crusades. 
Spain, whose heroic traditions were carefully preserved in the romances of 
the Campeador Cid, showed little liking for the peers of Charlemagne ; but 
she took more kindly to the Breton romances about the Knights of the Round 
Table, and from them derived her inspirations for the composition of a 
romance similar in characteristics, which soon obtained a reputation equal to, 
if not greater than, that of the French works. This romance, " Amadis do 
Gaule," which Portugal has always claimed the possession of from Spain, 
was composed, or at all events begun, in the first years of the sixteenth century 
by an anonymous author, who wrote only the first four books of it. The 
writers who took up the work where he left it, and whose names are also 
unknown, added to these four books the stories of Esplandian, of Florisande, 
of Catane, and of the Knight of the Burning Sword. The success of 
" Amadis " was even greater in France and Italy than it was in Spain, and 
the French translation of Nicholas de Herberay, Sieur des Essars, shone like 
a beacon light above all the romantic compositions of the sixteenth century, 
during which the Spaniards published many romances of chivalry "Primaleon 
of Greece," " Gerileon of England," &c. all of which were cast into the shade 
by the masterpiece of Cervantes. The English and the Dutch continued to 
read the translations of the old French romances, but they did not attempt 
to imitate them, and the first national romance in England was Sidney's 
"Arcadia," published in 1591, and continued by his sister, the Countess of 
Pembroke. The Germanic nations, which had also translated a great number 
of the old French romances, were even less successful than the English 
in this branch of literature, and the few national and historical romances 
which they published in the sixteenth century only served to manifest their 

A'CAl/J. VrA'.S. 


inferiority. Their tendency was ruther towards the in\ ration of stories at oiu-e 
supernatural and facetious, such as " Fortunatus," " Ulespiegel," and " Faust," 
or satirical allegories, such as the famous romance of " Renard," to which 
France gave letters of naturalisation, borrowing from Germany the data of 
this fanciful and allegorical story. 

Fig. 317. Token of Antoine Verard (1498), Printer, Wood Engraver, and Bookseller, at Paris, 
who published most of the Romances of Chivalry in Prose during the reigns of Louis XII. 
and Francois I. 


Definition and Classification of Popular Sjng. Songs of the Germans, the Gauls, the Goths, and 
the Franks. They are collected by Order of Charlemagne. Vestiges of the most Ancient 
Songs. The Historical Songs of France down to the Sixteenth Century Romanesque Songs. 
Religious Songs.- The Christmas Carols and the Canticles. Legendary Songs. Domestic 
Songs. The Music of the Popular Songs. Provincial Songs. The Songs of Germany. The 
Minnesingers and the Meistersingers. The Songs of England, of Scotland, and of Northern 
Countries. The Songs of Greece, of Italy, and of Spain. 

Y the words Popular Song we mean a sort of 
poetry born spontaneously amongst the people, 
and therefore anonymous, and which, instead 
of being ascribed to such and such a poet, is, 
on the contrary, the work of certain unknown 
authors. We may also look upon it as the 
collective and successive work of whole genera- 
tions, which, by the adoption of this poetry set 
to music in which is reflected the feeling of the 
mass, have preserved it more or less intact as a 
traditional souvenir of early ages. Montaigne 
characterized, with striking truth, this kind of popular poetry, which is 
contemporary with the origin of nations and of languages, when he said, 
" Poetry which is popular and wholly natural possesses charms of simplicity 
and grace which are worthy to be compared with the highest of artificial 
beauties, as may be seen by the pastoral poetry (villanelles) of Gascony and the 
songs coming to us from foreign parts." 

M. Eugene Fennin, the commentator of the "Burgundy Christmas 
Carols " of La Monnoye, says, " Every nation possesses its popular songs ; 
and as with all of them these songs must have had their origin in analogous 
causes, it follows that these songs must possess a certain analogy with each 
other. They were always inspired either by public occurrences, or by religious 



feeling, or by domestic joys and sorrows, whence we have the three distinct 
and marked categories which comprise the historic songs, the religious songs, 
and the domestic songa." 

Fig. 318. Poetry and Music. The Nino Muses inspiring Arion, Orpheus, and Pythagoras, under 
the auspices of the Personified Air, source of all Harmony. Miniature from the " Liber 
Pontificalis." Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century. In the Public Library, Rheims. 

All nations have had their singers, and the national songs, composed of 
rhymed word's with which corresponded a musical melody that had not the same 


principles of duration, were the primitive expression of the passions, the 
beliefs, and the ideas of each great human family (Fig. 318). It is easy to 
understand how most of these popular songs were lost as time rolled on, and 
why only a few faint echoes of them are now preserved, for the very essence 
of a popular song is that it receives no written publicity, but passes from 
mouth to mouth, leaving no other trace than verbal reminiscences. The 
early peoples were not in the habit of writing. "The Germans," says 


Da ikmabgwennDrouiz.o-re; Da-ik pe-lra felld'id-de? pe-lra ga-ninn- 

^H-hJ-b-*-! == 

me d'irt -de? Kan d'ineuz a - eur raiiu, Ken a ouf-enn bre-man. 

Heb rann ar Red heb-ken : An - Kou , tad ann an-ken;Ne- 


tra kcntne tra ken. Da-ikmabgwenn Drouiz.o - re; Da-ik pe-lra 

felld'id-de? pe-tra ga-ninn - me did- de? Kand'iueuz a zaou rann, 


Ken a ouf-enn bre-man. 

Fig. 319. A Song of the Druidic Epoch, Words and Music. Translated hy Fctis in his 
" General History of Music." 

Tacitus, " possessed some very ancient poems, in which were celebrated the 
warlike actions and noble deeds of their ancestors, and which were transmitted 
from father to son as the only annals of their race." Among the Gauls the 
Druids preserved as a sacred deposit the religious poems which dated from 
the very earliest times, and which contained the mysteries of their religion 
(Fig. 319), and these religious poems were in no case committed to writing. 


At a later period, according to the testimony of Jornandes, (lie great (iermanic 
nation of the Goths possessed no other history tlian the ancient songs which 
had been preserved as a venerable tradition in the well-stored memory of the 
people (" quemadmodum et in priscis eorum canninibus pene historico ritu in 
commune recolitur"). Thus Boulainvilliers remarks with truth, in his 
" Essay upon the Nobility," " The history of the French is stored up in their 
historical songs." 

Unfortunately there does not now exist a single one of these songs, which 
the Gallic bards, according to Diodorus Siculus and Ammianus Marcellinus, 
were set to compose in Celtic, in order to perpetuate the memory of heroic 
deeds, and which they sang themselves at their assemblies to the accompani- 
ment of the harp or the lyre. (See the volume on " The Arts," chapter Music.) 
We possess nothing of an earlier date than the Latin translation of the first 
verses of a popular song composed in 622, after the victory won by King 
Clotaire II. over the Saxons. This song went from mouth to mouth, because 
it was in the rustic language (jiixta rusticitatcm), and it was repeated by the 
women, who sang it while dancing and clapping their hands. The popular 
historical songs became very numerous in Gaul and in Germany, but many of 
them had disappeared when Charlemagne, who held this ancient literature 
of the people in high esteem, had them carefully collected in all the countries 
under his dominion, and it is much to be regretted that this valuable compila- 
tion, which testified to Charlemagne's esteem for this kind of vulgar poetry, 
should have been lost. Eginhard mentions in this connection that Charle- 
magne often sought relief from the cares of state in the songs of some Breton 
bard or some Scandinavian scald. Upon one occasion he allowed a Lombard 
juggler (joculator) to execute before him and his court a cantiunciila which 
that minstrel had composed. There existed, no doubt, some very popular and 
famous songs of the kind in honour of Charlemagne, for in the tenth century 
the words were still sung in the German language to the old tune, which is 
described in a manuscript at Wolfenbuttel as Modus caretmanninc (Charle- 
magne's tune). 

From the ninth to the twelfth century we can only cite eight or ten 
popular songs, most of which were written in Latin, and which were, there- 
fore, the work of clerks or men of letters, viz. a lament on the death of 
Charlemagne (" Planctus Caroli ") ; a very beautiful song upon the battle of 
Fontiinet, in 841, by Angilbcrt the Frank ; a song upon the death of Eric, 



Duke of Frioul, in 799, by Paulin, Patriarch of Alexandria ; a song to 
celebrate the victory of the Emperor Otho III. over the Hungarians ; a song 
upon the death of Abbot Hug, the natural son of Charlemagne. But it is 
doubtful how far these songs were really popular, and the " Ludwigslied " is 
the only song of that period which we know to have been unmistakably 
This song is in German, and celebrates the great victory won by 


Louis III. in 881 over the Normans, and it was sung in the North of France 
as late as the twelfth century. 

The songs in the Romance rustic language were the only ones generally 

O Ma-ri - a. Deu mai - re, Denies e fils e 

pai - re ; 



zg E H^=j- 
d~ -*- u J^* '- 

fil - lo glo - ri - os. 


pair ais - sa-men; 

pre - ia per to - ta 

1 I 2 . 

Fv "---*- 

jcn, e eel - ro nos so-cor; 

tor - iia nos es a 


Fig. 320. Song of the Crusaders, dating from the First Crusade (1096), and set to Modern Music 
by Fetis in his " General History of Music." 

current among the people at a time when the German language was only 
used at the court of the Carlovingian kings and emperors, and when the 
clerks used the Latin language almost exclusively in the monasteries and in 
the schools. A great number of these songs were devoted to the marvellous 
and historical incidents in the legend of Charlemagne, and they served for 
the composition of the early chansons de geste and romances of chivalry, in 
which they were gradually absorbed and lost (Fig. 320). It is, therefore, 
impossible to advance any direct and certain proof as to the existence of these 
primitive songs. (See above, chapter 011 Romances.) 

There are no traces of historical songs in the vulgar tongue of France 



earlier than the thirteenth century, but there may be instanced a very singular 
Latin song relating to the story of Abclard, and composed by his pupil Hilaire 

Fig. 321. Duke Philip the Good, being sick, intrusts the education of his son Charles, Comte de 
Charolois, to Georges Chastelain, the Poet and Chronicler. Miniature from the " Instruction 
d'uu jeune Prince." Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, executed by the Painters of the 
Court of Burgundy. In the Arsenal Library, Paris. 

about 1122, when his illustrious muster, condemned by the Council of Soissons 

3 F 


for his bold views on philosophy, finally gave up tuition. This song is divided 
into rhymed verses of four lines each, with the following refrain in French : 

" Tort a vers nos li mestre." 

Seventy-seven years later, at the death of Richard Cceur de Lion, who was 
killed while besieging the" Castle of Chalus, in the province of Limousin, the 
French jugglers remembered that the valiant King of England had been 
delivered from prison by the aid of his minstrel, Blondel of Nesles, who made 
himself known by singing an air which Richard had composed himself. A 
popular song, in the style of the chansons de geste, was therefore composed 
about the death of Richard, and soon became popular throughout France, and 
doubtless in England as well. Amongst other lines were the following : 

" Et co dont dei tos jors pleindre en plorant, 

M'avient a dire en chantant et retraire 

Que cil qui est de valur chief et paire 
Li tres-valens Richarz, rois des Engleis, eat morz. . . . 

Morz est li rois, et sunt passe mil ana 
Que tant prodom ne fust ne n'est de son semblant." 

The historical songs from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century recall 
such events as the Crusades, the wars of the French and the English, the 
death of the Constable Bertrand Duguesclin, and other popular heroes. Le 
Roux de Lincy has published an interesting collection of historical and 
popular French songs from the twelfth to the eighteenth century, and a 
second, comprising those of the time of Charles VII. and Louis XI., and in 
these two collections are to be found all that remains of these songs, most of 
which have lapsed into oblivion. It is very strange that none of the numerous 
ballads which the miraculous mission of Joan of Arc evoked at the time should 
have been treasured up, while there is still extant in the neighbourhood of 
Tournay a long ballad upon the death of Philip, the good Duke of Burgundy 
(Fig. 321). Although this ballad dates from 1467, it does not differ much 
from the language of the present day, as may be gathered from the extract 
appended : 

" Le ton due, avant son trespas, 
Et sentaiit la mort pros de luy, 
Tout bellement et par compas, 
Fist ses regres en grant annuy : 


' Las ! ' dit-il, ' je laisoe aujourd'hui 
Mu chiere espouse encor vivant. 
Adieu, ma dame a qui je suy ! 
Pries pour moy, jo voys morant.' " 

The importance of a popular song was not, moreover, always to be judged 
by that of the event which gave it birth. It often happened that great 
political and national questions inspired only a few insignificant rhymes, 
which lapsed into oblivion without evoking the sympathies of the masses, 
while a tournament, a plenary court, a public ceremony, or a fte at some 
feudal castle sufficed to evoke the muse of the people. The inspirations of this 
fanciful muse were often in striking contrast to the circumstances which had 
given them birth, for while some tragic occurrence would serve as a theme 
for sarcastic or flippant songs, a matter which seemed to be a cause of 
universal rejoicing would form the subject for some doleful ballad. The 
divisions in popular opinion often found expression in their songs, and thus, 
when Jacques Cle'ment assassinated King Henry III., who had been driven 
from Paris by the League, at St. Cloud, some fanatical people sang the 
murderer's praises in the following lines : 

" O le sainct rcligieux, 
Jacques Clement bienheureux, 
Des Jacobins 1' excellence, 
Qui, par sa benevolence, 
Ft de par le Sainct-Esprit, 
A merite asseurance 
La limit au Ciel ou il" 

The Politicians, or Royalists, rejoined with the following lines : 

" II fut tu6 par un meschant mutin 
Jacques Clement qui estoit jacobin. 
Jacques Clement, si tu estois a naistre, 
Las ! nous aurions nostre Roy, nostre maistre ! " 

It would sometimes happen that after a certain interval a song of noble 
and solemn melancholy would be converted into a burlesque parody without 
any apparent cause or reason. Thus the battle of Pavia (1525), at which the 
flower of the French nobility perished around Franois I., who was made 
prisoner, was a most appropriate subject for a popular song, and amongst 


other touching incidents was the death of Jacques de Chabannes, Lord of La 
Palice, who was killed at the feet of his sovereign. The ballad, composed in 
his honour, began 

" Monsieur de La Palice est mort, 
Est mort devant Pavie." . . . 

But within a century this national song had been travestied in such a way 
that it had become impossible to recognise it, and some one made it ridiculous 
by adding as a joke to the above two lines 

" Helas ! s'il if estoit pas mort, 
II seroit encore en vie." 

Sometimes, too, there would reappear in a new shape some old song which 
was scarcely remembered by the older generation, but which seemed to 
acquire fresh youth when, with an altered name, it was applied to some other 
subject. Thus, after the battle of Malplaquet in 1709, the rumour of the 
death of the English commander, the Duke of Marlborough, having spread 
through the ranks of the French army, which had suffered so much at his 
hands, the soldiers began to sing, out of revenge, a sort of comic ballad, which 
was only the imitation of a popular song entitled the "Convoi du Due de 
Guise," which all the Huguenot soldiers knew by heart after the assassination 
of Fran9ois de Lorraine, called Le Balafre (covered with scars), beneath the 
walls of Orleans (1563). Appended are some of the couplets of this old song 
which most resemble the " Chanson de Malbrough," and which was revived 
two centuries later by the court of Louis XVI., when Madame Poitrine, 
the nurse of the Dauphin, taught it to Marie Antoinette : 

" Qui veut ouir chanson f 

C'est du grand due de Guise, 
Doub, dan, don, dan, dou, don, 

Dou, dou, dou, 
Qu'est mort et enterre. 

Qu'est mort et enterre. 
Aux quatre coins de sa tombe, 
Doub, dan, don, &c. 

Quatr'gentilhomm's y avoit. 


Quatr'guntilhomm's y avoit, 
Dont 1'un portoit son casque 
Doub, dan, don, &o. 
L'autre sea pistolets. 

L'autre sea pistolets, 
l-'.t 1'autre son epee, 
Doub, dan, don, &c. 
Qui tant d'Hugu'nots a tues 

La ceremonie faite, 
Doub, dan, don, etc. 
(,'hacun s'allit coucher. 

Chacnn e'allit couchor, 
Lea uns avec leurs femme , 
Doub, dan, don, &c. 

Et lea autres tons seuls." 

Several critics, Genin amongst others, have attributed a still more ancient 
origin to the " Chanson de Malbrough," or at least to part of this song, in 
which may be recognised the naive and sentimental cast of the popular songs 
of the thirteenth century. There are many instances which might be cited of 
songs coming down from century to century, gradually losing all the souvenirs 
which connected them with the distant period during which they gushed 
forth from the heart of the people. The children in the villages of Poitou 
still sing as an anthem the following verse, half Latin, half French, which 
doubtless refers to the captivity of King John, who was taken prisoner at the 
battle of Poitiers (September 17th, 1356) : 

" Chrittiana Francia 
De laquelle le chef eat prig, 
Splendent rtgni gloria 
Aux armes de k fleur de lya." 

By the side of the historical songs, and in the same category with them, 
must be cited the romantic songs. As has been remarked by one of those who 
have studied the most deeply this poetry of the people, " the narrative in them 
is abrupt and digressive, leaving secondary details in the shade, and treating 
only of the salient points. The same forms of language are repeated several 
times, and the dialogues are reproduced word for word as in Homer. The 


refrain is sometimes entirely unconnected with the subject of the narrative." 
Perhaps the most beautiful of these short poems is the following, which has 
taken different forms in different provinces of France, and which is known as 
the " Complainte de Renaud." The poem forms a complete drama : 

" Quand Renaud de la guerre vint, 

Sa mere, a la fenetre en haut, 

Dit : ' Void venir mon fils Renaud.' 

La Mere, Renaud, Renaud, rejouis-toi, 

Ta femme eat accouchee d'un roi. 
Renaud. Ni de ma femme, ni de mon fils, 
Mon coeur ne pent se rejoui ; 

Qu'on me fasse vite un lit Wane 
Pour que je m'y couche dedans. 
Et quand il fut mis dans son lit, 
Pauvre Renaud rendit 1'esprit. 

(Les cloches sonnent le trepassemem '.) 

La Seine. Or, dites-moi, mere m'amie, 

Qu'est-ee que j'entends sonner ici ? 

La Mere. Ma fille, ce sont les processions 
Qui sortent pour les Rogations. 
(On cloue le cercueil.) 

La Heine. Or, dites-moi, mere m'amie, 

Qu'est-ce que j'entends cogner ici ? 

La Mere. Ma fille, c' sont les charpentiers 

Qui raccommodent nos greniers. 

(Les pretres enlevent le corps.) 

La Heine. Or, dites-moi, mere m'amie, 

Qu'est-ce que j'entends chanter ici f 

La Mere. Ma fille, c' sont les processions 
Qu'on fait autour de nos maisons. 

La Seine. Or dites-moi, mere m'amie, 

Quelle robe prendrai-je aujourd'hui ? 

La Mere. Quittez le rose, quittez le gris. 

Prenez le noir, pour mieux choisi. 

La Seine. Or, dites-moi, mere m'amie, 
Qu'ai-je done a pleurer ici ? 

La Mere. Ma fille, je n' puis plus vous le cacher : 
Renaud est mort et enterre. 



La Heine. Terre, ouvre-toi ! terre, fenda-toi ! 
Que j" rejoigne Renaud, mon roi. 
Terre s'ouvrit, terre fendit, 
Et la belle fut engloutie." 

Religious songs, which must not be confused with the liturgical songs, 

Fig. 322. The Shepherds celebrating the Birth of the Messiah with Hymns and Dancing (End 
of the Fifteenth Century). Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving from a " Livre d'Heurts" 
printed by Antoine Verard. 

had a much more extensive sphere than the historical songs, for they com- 
prised prayers, legends, the lives of the saints, miracles, canticles, and the 
songs pertaining to the ceremonies of religion and the festivals of the Church. 
Of the three distinct categories referred to above, that of religious song is the 



most fruitful in ingenuous works which bear the impress of the faith and piety 
of our forefathers, for in France the people have always been sincerely 
attached to religion. It is true that popular religious songs were sometimes 
of a slightly facetious and bantering tone, but this was merely a natural 
emanation of the Gallic character and temperament. The Church very 
properly opposed the introduction of profane songs into the sanctuary, 
though, as we saw in the chapter on Popular Beliefs, the " Prose of the Ass " 
long held its own against the condemnations of councils and synods. We 
may believe, therefore, that in many dioceses during the Middle Ages the 
religious songs in the vulgar tongue, known under the generic title of Noels 



Ai lai Na-li - vi - tai Chanton. je vo i 

lai Na-li - vi - tai Clianton, je 


mail-ld-taiJeusqueai nos'hu mi - li 

e, Po no dechar-bd - tai Duco-dou 

qui no li - <,. 

Fig. 323. A Carol in Burgundy Patois, with the Music annotated. After the " Noel Borguignon 
de Gui Barozai," published by Bernard de La Monnoye. 

(Christmas Carols), were sometimes mixed up with the sacred hymns which 
celebrated the birth of Jesus in the stall at Bethlehem. These songs in the 
vulgar tongue were simg during the solemn procession which was formed 
during the night of Christmas, to the sound of instruments, and in the dress 
of shepherds, around the crib of the infant Jesus (Fig. 323). The persons 
who represented the shepherds are said to have sung, as early as the 
thirteenth century, a carol which began 

" Seignors, or entendez a nous. 

De loin sommes venus a rous 

Pour querre Noel." 

Another carol of the same period, which was entirely rewritten in the 


sixteenth century, described the joy of the animals at the news of the birth 
of the Holy Child, and gave an opening for musical effects, as the singers 
imitated the crowing of the cock, the lowing of the ox, the bleating of the 
goat, the braying of the ass, and the bellowing of a calf. It ran as follows : 

" Comme lea bestes autrefoia 
Parloient mieux latin que francos, 
Le coq, de loin voyant le fuiot, 
S'ecria : Chrittui natna et (le Christ est ne) ; 
Le bieuf, d'un air tout ebaubi, 
Demande : Ubi, M, ubi ? (Ob, on, oil ?) 
La chevre, se tordant le groin, 
Respond que c'est a Bethltem. 
Maistre baudet, curiums (curieux) 
De 1'aller voir, dit : Eamiu ! (Aliens !) 
Et limit sur sea pattes, lo veau 
Beugle deux fois : Tola ! volo ! (je veux ! je veux !) " 

This was only an exception, for, as a general rule, the carol was so distin- 
guished above all other religious songs for its pious and touching simplicity 
that it might almost have passed for a canticle. The most picturesque and 
emotional carols were those of Brittany, though all over France, in town 
as well as in country, the carols preserved their former characteristics as 
long as religion remained supreme in men's hearts. The whole song was 
devoted to glorifying the Divine Messiah, and at most it contained a final 
couplet praying God to pardon miserable sinners. But gradually human 
thoughts displaced divine and religious thoughts in this popular song, and 
the carols, while still retaining their original form and pretensions, became 
changed into personal appeals addressed to Jesus and the Holy Virgin in 
the interests of those who sang them. 

In the Beauce district, for instance, it is still the custom to sing 

" Honneur a la compagnie 

De cette maison. 
A 1'entour de votre table, 

Nous voug saluons. 
Nous sommcs v'nus de pais strange 

Dedans cos lieux : 
C'est pour vous faire la demande 

De la part a Dieu." 

There is also a very long carol which was composed and sung during the 

3 G 


League, and this carol, doubly remarkable with regard to the sentiments it 
contains and the way in which they are expressed, is in reality a popular song 
at once political and religious, and in which staunch Catholics deplore the 
evil of their time. The three couplets subjoined will give the reader an idea 
of the general tone of this pathetic lay : 

" Nous te requerons, a mains jointes, 
Vouloir ou'ir nos griefvcs plaintes, 

Nous, pauvres pastoureaux ; 
De toutes parts on nous saccage, 
On nous detruit, on nous ravage, 
Et brebis et agneaux. 

Le soklat, tous los jours, sans cesse, 
En nos casettes nous oppresse, 

Pille et emporte tout : 
II nous compresse, il nous r:m9onne ; 
A son depart, souvent nous donne 

Encore un meschant coup. 

Quo si bientost tu n'y prends garde, 
Nous mettant sous ta sauvcgarde, 

Helas ! o'est fait de noua. 
Oste-nous done de ces miseres, 
Fais cesser nos civiles guerres, 

Te prions a genoux ! " 

The Christmas carol soon assumed a different shape, and, ceasing to be 
even a religious song, was made to contain allusions to the current events of 
the day, allusions replete with epigrams and sarcasms. It became in some 
cases impertinent, indelicate, and blasphemous, though more generally it was 
but the arch expression of popular good-humour. The appended couplet 
gives a fair idea of the carol of the sixteenth century : 

" Messire Jean Guillot, 
Cure de Saint-Denis, 
Apporte plein un pot 
Du Tin of son logis. 
Prestres et escolliers, 
Toute icelle nuictee, 
Se sont mis a sauter, 

Tit, re, mi, fa, sol, la, 

A gorge desployee." 


The religions canticles and ballads preserved their characteristics of single- 
minded devotion much longer than the carols, and, unlike the works manu- 
factured by a professional poet, they resemble rather the prayers and orisons 
set to church music. The pilgrims, the relic showers, and the vendors of 
consecrated medals chanted in slow and monotonous tones the interminable 
stories of saints, male and female " Genevieve de Brabant," " St. Roch," 
" St. Antoine," and many other masterpieces of simple faith, which have 

Fig. 324. A Ballad Singer accompanying himself upon the Violin. Miniature from Manuscript 
of the Thirteenth century, No. 6,819. In the National Library, Paris. 

come down to us in modern form, and which will, perhaps, survive centuries 
after much of the modern and printed poetry has been forgotten (Fig. 320). 
The following modernised song dates, beyond all doubt, from a very ancient 

epoch : 

"C'eet sainte Catherine, 
La fille d'un grand roi : 
Son pere etait paten, 
Sa im iv no 1'etait pas. 
Ave Maria, Sancta CatKarina, 
Dei mater, alleluia. 


Un jour a sa priere 
Son pore la trouva : 
' Catherine, o ma fillo, 
Catherine, que fais-tu la?' 
Ai'e Maria, &c. 

' J'adore, j'adore, mon pere, 
Le bon Dieu que voila. 
C'est le Dieu de ma mere : 
Votre Dieu n'est pas la.' 
Ave Maria, &c." 

. The legends relating to the Virgin form a class apart, and are many of 
them .endowed with special charms. Several narratives of the Middle Ages 
were devoted to celebrating her mercy and the influence which she possessed, 
because of her motherhood, over God himself. There is a Perigord song 
brought to light by Count de Mellet, which in modem French runs 

" Une ame est morte cette nuit : 
Elle est morte sans confession. 
Personne ne la va Toir, 
Excepte la Sainte Vierge. 
I,e Demon est a 1'entour : 
' Tenez, tenez, mon fils Jesus, 
Accordez-moi le pardon de cette pauvre ame.' 
' Comment voulez-vous que je lui pardonne ': 
Jamais elle ne m'a demande de pardon.' 
' Mais si bien a moi, mon fils Jesus ; 
Elle m'a bien demande pardon.' 
' Eh Wen ! ma mere, vous le voulez P 
Dans le moment meme je lui pardonne.' " 

The popular domestic songs are infinite both in regard to numbers and 
variety, and they appealed the most directly to the heart of the people. 
Conjugal and maternal love inspired most of these songs, in which are 
depicted with singular fidelity the joys and sorrows of home, and in which 
the business of life is shown in its varying shades. These songs are a mixture 
of epigram and elegy, of the open expression of the tendcrest feelings of the 
human heart and of the wildest fancies, and they depict the different grada- 
tions of the social scale. These domestic songs may be subdivided into many 
categories : the songs of the soldier and of the sailor, of the shepherd and 
of the labourer, of the fisherman and of the hunter; the songs of indoor 
workmen, such as the weavers, the shoemakers, the spinners, the smiths, and 



the carpenters ; the songs of the i-ompaynonnayes (trades unions) ; the songs 
relating to the culture of the soil, such as seed-time, harvest, and vintage ; 
satirical son^s; songs bearing upon the various phases of family life, such as 
christening, confirmation, marriage, death, widowhood, &c. ; convivial and 
playful songs ; roundelays and songs of childhood ; and so forth. Types of all 
these songs are to be found in M. Ampere's excellent treatise called the 
I nst ructions du Comite de la Langue, de 1'Histoire et des Arts de la France." 

Fig. 325. The Personification of Music. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving in the "Margarita 
Philosophica " (Bale Edition, 4to, 1508). 

All these songs, be it remembered, which had no known authors, or which 
were adopted by the great anonymous and collective poet called the People, 
arc in reality popular songs, and must not be confounded with the individual 
productions of written poetry, many of them very indifferent in quality. 


which Montaigne contemptuously designated as being " void of honour and 
of value." Some of these popular songs, for all their errors of grammar and 
their incompleteness, are very remarkable works. The metre often seems 
wrong, the rhyme is replaced by a mere assonance, and the meaning is badly 
expressed ; but these trifling compositions have a charm all their own, and 
present the true type of popular poetry. The professional poets, even the 
greatest of them, did not think it beneath their dignity to borrow from this 
popular poetry, which, in attempting to improve, they often spoilt. A charm- 
ing couplet is that which Georges de Lalaing, a gentleman of the court of 
Burgundy, who happened to remember having heard it somewhere in Brabant, 
wrote in the album of Helene de Merode : 

" Elle s'en va aux champs, la petite bergiere, 
Sa quenouille filant ; son troupeau suyt derriere. 
Tant il la fait bon veoir, la petite bergiere, 
Taut il la fait bon veoir." 

In the same album is preserved a village roundelay which was sung in the 
Hainault : 

" Nous estions trois sceurs tout d'une volonte, 
Nous alltmes au fond du joly bois jouer. . . . 
A r ray Dieu ! Qu'il est heureux, qui se garde d'aimer ! " 

Most of these songs were set to popular airs which were familiar to 
everybody, and the unknown origin of which in many cases went back for 
centuries. Sometimes, however, the music had been composed at the same 
time as the words, and also belonged to the music of the people, which has 
always been remarkable for its exquisite grace and simplicity (Fig. 325). 

Every province and town one might almost add every village had its 
particular songs, which were preserved in the memory of the inhabitants as 
safely as if they were deposited in the local archives. These songs repre- 
sented the ideas, the beliefs, the manners, and, above all, the idiom of the 
district, and this idiom limited the preservation of them to the region in 
which they were composed. Hence we have a mass of popular songs which 
have become embedded in the various patois, and which date from every 
period in history. The patois may be Flemish, Picard, Norman, Poitou, 
Burgundian, Provencal, Auvergnat, or Lauguedoc, but in all alike one 
hears the voice of the people. How ancient some of these songs are, not- 


withstanding the modem dialect in which they are expressed, may be readily 
understood when one hears the Berry peasants driving their oxen to an 
unintelligible air interspersed with Latin words, such as I bos and Sta bos; and 
so, again, in several popular songs in the Chartrain and Auvergne districts 
there occurs the refrain la (jitillone and la guillona, which is no other thiin 
the song of Gallic origin terminating with the words Gtii fan neu, and which 
long survived the Druidic ceremonies. 

The various races of men settled in Europe, and the various countries 
which make up that continent, formerly possessed their own popular songs, 
and they were anxious to preserve them as records of their nationality, for 

Fig. 326. Minnesingers. Poesies des Minnesingers. Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century. 

In the National Library, Paris. 

these popular songs were, in fact, the native expression of the character of the 
nation which produced them. An effort is now being made to collect them, for 
they are the rarest and most interesting documents of the history of peoples. 
In Germany, whose national songs had already been collected by Charle- 
magne, there appeared in the twelfth century a series of long poems, 
derived from them, which made up the splendid epode known as "Niebe- 
lungen." The German poets then created a new branch of songs, which were 
destined by their very characteristics to become popular, but which must not, 
with a few exceptions, be looked upon as works emanating from the people 
themselves. The Minnesingers (or singers of love-songs), who composed a 


great many of these lyric songs, differed but little from the troubadours of 
Southern France (Fig. 326), while the Meistersingers (master singers) had 
more in common with the jugglers of the tongue of Oil. The work of the 
Minnesingers did not reach, from the twelfth to the fourteenth century, 
beyond the courts of the princes and the castles of the nobles, who them- 
selves aspired to sing love-songs, and who waged unceasing war against the 
ancient popular songs of Germany. The work of the Meistersingers, upon 
the contrary, was intended for the middle and the lower classes (Fig. 327). 
These poets and musicians, who devoted their efforts to a branch of literature 
more in conformity with the German character, had quite eclipsed the 
Minnesingers by the fifteenth century, and popularised a new branch of 
poetry which contained within itself the germs of dramatic art. (See below, 
chapter on National Poetry.) 

The popular songs of Germany are especially worth studying when they 
take the eminently poetic form of ballads, for there is in the German ballad, 
to use the felicitous expression of M. Fertiault, something soft and pensive, 
which can be felt better than it can be described something at once vague 
and touching. It embodies, as a rule, a slight drama, in which are united and 
fused lyric, dramatic, and familiar elements. Pensive and mystic, it hints at 
more than it actually says, and it exhales as it were a refined perfume of the 
soul which kindles the deepest emotions. Germany, like France, has her 
popular songs, both historical, religious, and domestic, and they are in a more 
complete state of preservation. 

England, too, is rich in ancient ballads equal to those of Germany. The 
English ballads are, as a rule, somewhat epic in their tendencies, and many of 
them are of such a length that they assume the proportions of a poem in 
several cantos. But, whatever may be their length or manner of composition, 
they are replete with tender and refined sentiments culled from the marvellous 
fables of ancient Britain. Scotland has also a number of national ballads 
reflecting the poetic majesty of her wild scenery, of her mist-enveloped lakes, 
and of her pine-covered mountains. Sir Walter Scott, in his "Songs of 
the Scotch," remarks that traditional tales and songs, accompanied by the 
flute and the harp of the minstrel, were probably the sole sources of amuse- 
ment possessed by the Highlanders during their short intervals of peace. 
In them we may trace the source whence Macpherson drew the fanciful 
utterances which he puts in the mouth of his Ossian. Ireland is not less 



proud of her national ballads, and Thomas Moore, who published them for 
the first time, preferred them to the Scotch ballads. 

In Denmark, Sweden, and Norway the popular songs were for centuries 
the only history transmitted from generation to generation : all these 
countries had their national poets, named Scalds, who sang upon the battle- 
fields in order to inspirit the combatants (Fig. 328). These poets, themselves 
warriors, improvised to the sound of the harp rhymed songs in which they 
related, after a fashion at once simple and striking, the great military 
achievements of their heroes, whom they associated with the sombre deities 

Fig. 327. German Musicians playing the Lute and the Guitar. Engraved by J. Amman 

(Sixteenth Century). 

of the Odin mythology. The people drank deeply and incessantly from the 
springs of this wild and warlike, yet pensive poetry, and these anonymous, and 
in the true sense popular, works formed a collection known by the name of 
" Kemperiser." M. Marmier points out the resemblance of the popular songs 
of Sweden to those of Scotland, Germany, Holland, and Denmark. The 
Danes, as he remarks, were long enough in direct communication with 
England to interchange the legends of heroism, religion, and love. 

3 H 



Russia and Poland have popular songs which, though dissimilar from one 
another, date from the same epoch of the Middle Ages. In Poland the 
popular songs are mainly historical and warlike, or touch upon chivalry, 
while in Russia they are rather religious and domestic, and are used by the 
peasants to portray their joys and sorrows. Servia and the Danubiaii 
provinces arc equally rich in popular songs, which have been collated in a 
work called "Danitza," many of them being of very ancient date. They 
consist, for the most part, of love and war songs, and are remarkable for their 
exquisite refinement. Modern Greece has, like Servia, formed a collection of 
her ancient popular songs, many of which, in the shape of a legendary ballad 


Hiug-gu ver mecih hior-vi! 

Hilt lie - ir mikjafu - au 

I I 1 4 q-t 

it hr -&-& itr:t:: 

Bald-urs (oil - ur 


bekk i bun - a 

veit ek 

at smul - 




s^^ G I Q C* 1 

biiig - vid rau haus - 

. 1 fm\ 

u 1~ 4 ]~ J LHJ -h^IIH _l I |T|. i . TT|T!r3ZI-i i 



a; cig - i Kern ek mcdh oedr-u ord til \idr-is 

Fig. 328. Song of the Sword. Original Melody of the " Krakumal," an ancient record of the 
Scandinavian Scalds, published by Fetis in his " History of Music," after the version of it by 
M. Legis. Each of the couplets of this melody commences with a line meaning, " We have 
fought with the sword." 

of the Middle Ages, retain a perfume of antiquity. Some of these songs are 
contemporaneous with the conquest of Constantinople by the French crusaders 
in the twelfth century, and with the occupation of the Morea, which then 
became a French principality. 

Italy cannot well claim as popular songs the canzoni composed by her 
poets, who styled themselves reciters in rhyme and love swains, after the fashion 
of the troubadours of Provence and Languedoc. These pieces of poetry, full 
of concetti, metaphors, and mystic exaggerations, were doubtless considered, 



by the gallants and ladies of the court, to confer great honour upon Guido 
Cavalcanti, Cino de Pistoia, Guido Orlandi, and the rest of the composers ; 
but they took no root amongst the people, who either did not understand 
them or turned them into jest. Rhythm and song were in a measure instinc- 
tive requirements in a land where the love of poetry and music is innate. As 
late as the last century the gondoliers of Venice were in the habit of singing 
verses from Tasso while plying the oar (Fig. 329). But these were not 

Fig. 329. Venetian Gondola. From the " Grand Procession of tho Doge of Venice," attributed 
to Jost Amman, published at Frankfort in 1597. 

popular songs, to find which we must search the numerous patois, which were, 
many of them, equal, if not superior, to the correct Italian language. There 
was not a town or village which had not its local literature, and which could 
not boast of the clever and poetical works of some one or more of its sons. 

In Spain, more than in any other country of Europe, popular song had a 
very marked and special physiognomy, and assumed the form, not of ballad, 


dreamy and pensive, or light and airy, but of the heroic songs, such as the 
chansons de geste written in Eomanic. Nothing, too, answers more closely to 
the best definition which has been given of popular song. M. Damas-Hinard, 
the translator of the " Cid," says, " Romances are not only the true history 
of the Middle Ages in Spain, they are also its poetry. The Spanish people, 
the poets of the Romances, composed with enthusiasm these songs, of which 
they themselves are the subject and the heroes. For many centuries, and in 
each generation, the greatest writers set themselves to improve and to embellish 
them." The most important part of the Spanish Romancero consists of the 
romances of the "Cid," which date, according to the critics, from the eleventh 
or the thirteenth century, but long before this Spain possessed popular songs 
which must date from the reign of King Roderick in the eighth century. A 
collection of the Spanish popular songs, from the conquest of Granada, by 
Gonzalvo of Cordova, in 1492, to the end of the sixteenth century, would be 
a very onerous task, but if not undertaken the world will ultimately lose the 
beautiful historical romances which the muleteers of Andalusia used to sing 
to the accompaniment of the mandolin. 

Fig. 330. French Trouveur. After a Drawing from the Poems of Guillaume de Machaut. 
Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century. In the National Library, Paria. 


Decadence of Latin Poetry. Origins of Vulgar Poetry. Troubadours, Trouveurs, and Jugglers. 
Rutebeuf. Thibaud of Navarre and his School. Marie de France. "Romance of the 
Renard." The " Guyot Bible." The " Romance of the Rose." The Minnesingers. Dante. 
The " Romancero." The Meistersingers. Petrarch. English Poets ; Chaucer. Eustache 
Deschamps, Alain Chartior, Charles d'Orleans, Villon. Chambers of Rhetoric. Poets of the 
Court of Burgundy. Modern Latin Poetry. The Poems of Chivalry in Italy. Clement 
Marot and his School. The Epic Poems, Tasso, Camoens. Poets of Germany and of the 
Northern Countries. Ronsard and his School. Poetry under the Valois Kings. 

E the Barbarians established themselves 
upon the ruins of the Roman empire in 
the West," says M. Charles Nisard, in his 
graphic history of poetry amongst the 
different peoples of Europe, " the down- 
fall of eloquence and of poetry occurred 
with startling rapidity. Boethius wrote 
in his prison the treatise on the ' Consola- 
tion of Philosophy,' and was put to death 
shortly afterwards (524). This treatise, 
which combines the highest of ancient 
morality with the tenderest feelings of Christian resignation, is the last 
protest of an expiring art ; it is the voice of the swan exhaling its last 
melody beneath the knife which is about to immolate it." 

Boethius was, in fact, one of the last Romans who wrote Latin verses with 
the true classic ring in them. Since the reign of Theodosius the Great, Latin 
poetry had been gradually declining, and the Church had ceased to use it 
except for her sacred hymns. This is why most of the poets from the fifth to 
the seventh century St. Paulinus, Sedulius, St. Prosper, Sidonius Apollinaris, 
Juvencus, Venautius Fortunatus, &c. wrote only upon pious or moral 
subjects. The singing of hymns was calculated, in the opinion of the 


Church, to put an end to certain heretical or blasphemous songs which the 
Barbarians or the Romans of the decadence were in the habit of repeating ; 
and the hopes of the Church were eventually fulfilled. 

The Romanic language, which in various forms was current throughout 
Europe from the sixth to the tenth century, produced no other poetical works 
than the popular songs which were transmitted from generation to generation, 
and which, not having been collected, as the Teutonic songs were by order of 
Charlemagne, soon became effaced from the memory of the people. (See 
previous chapter, Popular Songs.) The written poetry, which was cultivated 
by a few men of letters and clerks, continued to be in Latin (Fig. 331), but 
it was disfigured by words of new creation. It is not vintil the tenth century 


Fig. 331. Horace's Poems.- Fragment from the "Ode to Maecenas." Manuscript of the Tenth 
Century. In the National Library, Paris. 

that we find the first poetical samples of the Romanic language of the North 
and of the Romanic language of the South of France. The oldest pieces of 
French poetry are the Cantilena of St. Eulalie ; the two poems of the manu- 
script of Clermont-Ferrand, devoted to St. Leger and to the Passion of Jesus 
Christ ; and, in the eleventh century, the " Chanson de St. Alexis." In the 
Provencal language we have the " Mystery of the Wise and of the Foolish 
Virgins," previously to which came the " Poem of Boethius." The latter is a 
piece in verse, of about two hundred and fifty lines, upon the captivity of 
Boethius, and these lines, of ten syllables each, are divided into stanzas of 
unequal length, each stanza terminating with the same masculine rhyme. This 
kind of poem is unquestionably anterior to the tenth century. Such are the 
origins of the language of French poetry. 


From this period vulgar poetry was founded, like Latin rhymed poetry, 
upon the accent and the assonance. It may further he affirmed that this 
vulgar poetry was sung, and that the jugglers, who repeated verses after a 
musical mood while playing the violin, had at that time come into existence. 
It is therefore certain that the first trouveurs and troubadours were contem- 
porary with the formation of this Romanic language, which was expressed in 
accented, syllabic, and consonant verse. The trouveur in the North and the 
troubadour in the South were alike the poets who knew how to find (trobar) 
that is to say, invent and who clothed their thoughts in literary shape. We 
do not know of any troubadours before the eleventh century, and the first to 
open the brilliant era of this new poetry was "William IX., Count of Poitiers, 
born in 1070, who, at the death of his father, became Duke of Aquitaine and 
Gascony. Several pieces of his which have been published show that the 
Romanic language was already in a flourishing state. After this there was a 
general development of poetry, and it is necessary to subdivide the trou- 
badours into several schools. The first, and perhaps the most important, is the 
Limousin school, of which Bertrand de Born, Gaucelm Faydit, and Bernard 
de Ventadour were the chiefs. To the Gascony school belong Geoff roy Rudel, 
Arnauld de Marvcilh, and twenty others. The school of Auvergne can claim 
the sturdy satirist, Pierre Cardinal, and Pons de Capdeuil (Fig. 332). 
Raymond Vidal is the hero of the Toulouse school, Guillaume Riquier of 
that of Narbonnc, and Raymond Gaucelm of that of Beziers. Lastly comes 
the Provencal school, to which belong Raimbaud of Vaqueiras and Folquet 
of Marseilles, and a hundred other writers scarcely less famous. 

These troubadours were men of lively imagination and ready wit, possessed 
of abundant humour, which was by turn gay, spiteful, and caustic. Their 
poetry, which is a dim reflection of the works of the early Roman writers, is 
essentially southern, being devoted in most cases to the multiform expression 
of the most refined gallantry ; it abounds in tender reveries and in descrip- 
tions of beautiful scenery. This poetry was highly appreciated by the society 
of that age, and every one, from the princes and nobles to the tradesmen and 
the artisans, held it a high honour to be a poet. We know of more than two 
hundred troubadours who, during three centuries, wrote with success in every 
branch of Romanic poetry, and Avho have left behind them an immense 
collection of charming and polished works. These works, most of which are 
still unpublished, had reached as far as Italy, inasmuch as we know that they 


were highly appreciated by Dante ; and the poetry of the troubadours was 
specially .notable for its gracefulness of invention, science of rhythm, infinite 
variety of form, abundant imagery, and richness of colour. Most of it con- 
sisted of love- songs and pastorals, but there were some religious and satirical 
pieces, many of the latter being very severe, known by the name of sirventes. 

When certain strolling jugglers of the South imported the poems of the 
troubadours into the central and northern provinces of France in the beginning 

Mouvement anirni. 

Us gays co-norlz me fai gay -a - men far ga-ya chan-so gai fag 


e gai sem-blan. Gay de - zi-rier io-ios gai a - le - grar. Per gai- 

a ton - ap gai cors ben es 

tan. Ab cuy tro bom gai so - latz c 


gai ri - re. Gai - ia culh-ir. Gai de port. Gai io - vcn. 

Gai-a beutalz. Gaichan-tar, Gai al-bi - re. Gaiditz pla - zen. 

Gaiioi, Gaipretz. Gai sen. I-eu soi gais, car soi sieus li - na - men 

Fig. 332. Song of the Troubadour, Pons de Capdeuil, with the Music. Published by Fetis, after 
Manuscript in National Library, Paris. 

of the thirteenth century, these provinces had long possessed a native poetry 
in the vulgar tongue, and they also possessed poets who called themselves 
trouveurs (Fig. 333), to distinguish them from the jugglers who had been in 
the habit, for three or four centuries past, of singing popular songs while 
playing upon different stringed instruments. As soon as the Romanic 
language of Northern France had made sufficient progress to become a 
written language, poetry was its spontaneous expression. It was to indicate 



tlic line of demarcation which separated the Tongue of Oil and the Romanic 
language of the South that the latter 
took the name of the Tongue of Oc. But 
it must be expressly mentioned that the 
trouveurs, notwithstanding certain local 
imitations of the poetry of the trouba- 
dours, have nothing in common with 
the latter in respect to literary inven- 
tion and poetical genius. It was the 
trouveurs who had the honour of creating 
in the eleventh century, or even earlier, 
the chansons de geste and romances of 
chivalry which have been translated 
into every language, and which have no 
parallel in the literature of the Tongue 
of Oc. (See previous chapter, Romances.) 
The Tongue of Oil had from its very 
inception produced two families of poets 
of utterly different characteristics, and 
who represented, so to speak, epic poetry 
and light poetry. The great trouveurs, 
those who collected the popular songs 
and the national traditions to convert 
them into chansons de geste and romances 
of chivalry, were, in many cases, in the 
domestic service of princes and nobles ; 
they lived all together amongst the 
warriors for whom they composed the 
long national poems which they after- 
wards recited to the sound of the violin 
at festivals and assemblies. All that 
relates to romances has been treated of 
in a previous chapter. But the lesser Fig " 333 Trouveur accompanying himself 

upon the Violin. Sculptured Work upon 

ouveurs, those who may, perhaps, have the Portico of the Abbey of 8t Denis 
been subject to the influence of the (Twelfth Century), 
troubadours, and many of whom were no better than strolling players, created 

3 i 


the gallant and joyous literature of the Tongue of Oil. They had, like the 
troubadours, their scrccntois, their descors, their rotmenges ; they borrowed 
their lays from the singers of Brittany, and were the inventors of ihejfitx- 
partis, the fabliaux, and the contcs, all of which are thoroughly French. The 
fabliau (metrical tale) is the best, but at the same time the most immoral, of 
the productions of the trouveurs and jugglers who wrote in the Tongue of 
Oil. These fabliaux are many of them masterpieces of wit and insinuation, 
and abound in strokes of humour, while the eight-syllable lines are well 
adapted to their style. In most of these works it is easy to trace the ancient 
sources from which the authors borrowed their generally indecent subjects of 
song. Others, however, were of their own invention, and these latter were 
not the least immoral, for the trouveurs of the people were, for the most part, 
men of dissolute life. 

Rutebeuf is the most celebrated cf these trouveurs- jugglers, and he has 
left a mass of exquisite and witty compositions, nearly all of which are satires 
upon the nobles, the monks, and the clergy. He is doubtless depicting his 
own life of poverty when he describes how he and his companions journeyed 
from castle to castle, half dead with cold and hunger, begging, often in vain, 
to be allowed to give their poetry and music. Most of them were not more 
exemplary in their conduct than Rutebeuf himself ; and one of them, Colin 
Muset, made an attack upon the King, who did not, however, condescend to 
notice his violent diatribe. But these poetic excesses were not, on the whole, 
favourable to the trouveurs and jugglers, who soon found themselves repulsed 
with contempt wherever they went. 

There was only one school of trouveurs, most of whom were themselves of 
noble birth, in favour with royalty and the nobility, and it comprised such 
men as Quenes or Conon of Bethune (Fig. 334), and Count Thibaud of Cham- 
pagne, afterwards King of Navarre, who was the most illustrious of them all 
(Fig. 335). This school, in fact, rivalled that of the troubadours. The songs 
of Thibaud found their way as far as Italy, and Dante, who had got them 
by heart, mentioned in his work, "De Vulgari Eloquentia," the King of 
Navarre as " an excellent master in poetry." One of the pupils and rivals of 
Thibaud of Champagne was his vassal, Gace Brule. Amongst the princes and 
lords of whom the gallant spirit of chivalry had made poets at this epoch 
may be mentioned the Lord of Coucy, Pierre Duke of Brittany, Jean de 
Brienne, Guillaume de Ferrieres, Hugues de Lusignan, and many others 



who are alluded to by M. Pauliii Paris in volume xxiii. of his " 

These trouveurs of the nobility, imitators of the troubadours, would not 
probably have succeeded in rehabilitating the poetry of the Tongue of Oil, which 
had been cast into discredit by the trouveurs-jugglers, but for the assistance 
of true poets, who, declining to emerge from their retreats in order to scour 
the country, devoted their time to the composition of serious and valuable 
works. Marie de France, who was one of this number, and who was a 
Norman by birth, passed part of her youth at the court of Henry III., King 


A -hi! a - rnors, com du-re de-par -li - e Me con-ven ra 
fe-re de latnei lourQuionqucs fust a-me e ne'ser-vi - et Dies 

V^ j- " 

me ra-inaiue a li par sa dou-cmir. Si voi-rement, qtn m'en para a doulour. 


Las! qu'ui-jiidil? ja tie m'en |>ars-je mi 

e : Se li rot's va servir no - 

stre si - gnour, Li cuers remiint del tout en sa bail - li - e. 

Fig. 334. " Serventois " of the Trouveur, Quenes of Bethune, upon the Crusade. Published by 
Fetis, after Manuscript in the National Library, Paris. 

of England, who had asked her to put into rhyme the legends which formed 
part of the traditions of Brittany. In addition to these sombre and tragic 
lays, which were well suited to her brilliant imagination, she composed for 
Count William de Dampierre a collection of fables, imitated after .^sop, 
called " Ysopet," in which we find something of the naivete and grace of La 
Fontaine. These ingenious imitations of JEsop, which were in much favour 
during the Middle Ages, were preceded by a great romantic and allegorical 
composition entitled the " Roman de Rciiard " (the " Romance of the Fox "), 


the principal incidents in which were also borrowed from the work ascribed 
to .ZEsop. 

This " Roman de Renard," which comprised thirty-two branches springing 
from the same trunk, but without forming a connected and homogeneous 
whole, was undoubtedly composed by different authors, and at different 
epochs, according to the requirements of the jugglers who recited or sang it 
in the towns and villages, and who thus acquired for it a very widespreading 
popularity. The middle and lower classes, more especially, took a lively 
interest in the amusing and satirical adventures of the rulpeoulits, personified 
under the name of Master Renard, and vying in cunning and mischief with 

A-mors me fait cowmen - cier U - ne chan? on no - ve - le , E - Ic me 

Tuet en - sei-gnier A a - mer la plus be le, 

Qui soil el mont vi-vant, 


C'cst la be - leau corsgent, C'cst ce - le dont je chant. Diex m'endoint le - le no - 

^^_ ^ 

ve le, Qui soil mon ta-Ient, Que mc-nu et suvent, Mcscuerspor 

11 sau - le - le. 

Fig. 335. Song of Thihaud, Count of Champagne, with the Music. Published by Feti.i, afler 
Manuscript (No. 7,222) in National Library, Paris. 

his uncle the Wolf, personified under the name of Tseng r in. The only one of 
the authors whose name has come down to us is Pierre de St. Cloud. Satirical 
poetry was then in vogue, and the writers, who were no longer the discredited 
and despised jugglers of a former time, were very severe upon all sorts and 
conditions of men. 

One of these general satires, which had a great success under the title of 
the " Guyot Bible," was composed by an ecclesiastic, Guyot de Proving, 
whose work displays much trenchant wit, but of a very truculent kind. He 

\.\rio.\AL POETR}'. 

may be called the Juvenal of the Middle Ages. A worthy eiti/eii of Lille, 
one Jaoquemart Gelee, published a work of a similar kind under (he title of 
" Renart Renouvtle." This poet of the end of the thirteenth century ri-es 
almost to eloquence in certain passages where he inveighs against the vices 
which he attributes to the upper classes. Another poet of Champagne, who 
preferred to remain anonymous, reproduced the original " Roman de Renard " 
in a very diffuse and prolix poem, entitled " Renart le Contrefait," which, 

fjf -3 -J / i* "i v vw * vvi IV W \ 1(J* IJ VI 

ywnnaniitraik Oer tuei\tl;dfte^c(?efrbeinVicl7 -vo 

Fig. 330. i'oulicul and ilusic-ul Cungnss ut Wartlmrg, in 1207. The Minneaingers, \Vnltner 
Vogclweide, Wolfram of Eschenbach, Reinmar of Zweter, Henry called the Virtu iua Writer, 
Henry of Ofterdingen, and Klingsorof Hungary. Miniature from the Treatise on the Minne- 
singers. Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century, in National Library, Paris. 

like its original, is a satire upon humanity, represented in the shape of 
certain animals. The " Roman de Fauvel " is also an allegorical satire upon 
the luxury and ambition of the great. 

The lettered public had taken such a fancy to these satirical poems that 
the "Roman de la Rose" ("Romance of the Rose"), which Guillaumede Lori-is 
had left unfinished, \\as resumed and completed by Jean de Moung in a very 


different shape, and with a meaning diametrically opposite to that which had 
inspired the author of the first part, who had merely endeavoured to imitate 
Ovid's " Ars Amandi." The poem of Guillaume de Lorris had caused quite 
a new sensation at the French court, the ladies more especially being enthu- 
siastic in its favour, and they regretted that the author did not live to finish 
it. It was not till sixty years afterwards that Jean de Meung, surnamcd 
Clopinel, resumed the work, and though a man of erudition and a philosopher, 
he did not possess the delicacy and refinement which were the distinguishing 
features of Guillaume de Lorris' s talent. Thus the poem, as continued, was 
an entirely new piece, except that the personages had the same names as in 
the first part. It was, in fact, not so much an elegant and picturesque poem 
as a rhymed encyclopaedia, into which Jean de Meung crammed all he knew 
of philosophy, cosmography, physics, alchemy, and natural history. Jean de 
Meung was not innately bad, but he was a sceptic and a free-thinker, and 
very fond of railing at the powers that be. Yet his poem, though ridiculous 
in form and containing much that was heretical, was greatly admired, and 
looked upon as the masterpiece of French poetry in the fourteenth century. 
Jean de Meung, like most of the poets who wrote in the Tongue of Oil, was the 
reverse of complimentary to the fair sex, in whose favour Guillaume de Lorris 
had said so much. But he did not express the general ideas of the time, 
and the " Romance of the Rose " is but the fanciful creation of a man of 
letters not the faithful portrayal of the manners of a whole epoch. 

Long before this running to seed of French poetry, the national language 
of France had spread throughout Europe. It was spoken and written in 
England, Italy, and Germany, and as early as the twelfth century many of 
the chansons de gestc and romances of chivalry were translated or imitated in 
the latter country. In fact, it was beneath the double inspiration of the 
poetical works of the South and of the North of France that began the golden 
age of the literature of romance and of chivalry in Germany (Fig. 336). In 
the latter part of the twelfth century the number of Minnesingers was more 
than three hundred, most of whom composed their love-songs in the soft and 
graceful dialect of Swabia. Henry of Waldeck is the oldest of these poets, 
who imitated the troubadours; while the most prolific and the most senti- 
mental was Wolfram of Eschenbach. To the same epoch belong the great 
German epodes, in which are embodied the recollections of the heroic age and 
the historical traditions of Germany. The " Helden-Buch " ("Book of 



Heroes") and the " Nibelungcn-Licd" (" Song of the Nibelungen "), which are 
still popular in Germany, were composed at the beginning of the thirteenth 
century : the first, it is said, by Wolfram of Eschenbach (Fig. 337), Henry of 
Ofterdingen, and "Wulther Vogelweide; the second by Conrad of Wart /burg, 

T jrmev eft wr cutfpvungrn* fldJ met 


" t *- 

tft flttfa? 4D<*g day fr<*fr 

_T 9_ 



r r 


T r r ' r 

v r 

ftft^gn tr^mm wat 


Fig. 337. Fragment of a Poem by Wolfram of Eschenbach, with the Notation of the Thirteenth 
Century. Published by Fetie, after Manuscript in the Imperial Library, Vienna. 

or by Nicholas Klingsor of Hungary ; but this statement is not based upon 
very trustworthy evidence. The end of this famous school of poetry 
coincides with the fall of the house of Swabia (1254). 

Italy did not as yet possess a national literature or language, for in the 


thirteenth century there was scarcely such a thing as Italian prose- writing. 
Several poems had, however, been written in the Sicilian dialect, amongst the 
first composers being the Emperor Frederick II. ; his chancellor, Pierre de la 
Vigne, to whom has been erroneously attributed the invention of the sonnet ; 
and his sons Enzo, King of Sardinia, and Manfred, King of Naples. It was 
not till nearly a century later that the poets of the Italian peninsula intro- 
duced into their native language the various forms of Romanic versification, 
and the characteristics of Provencal poetry, in the shape of odes (canzone), of 
poetical dialogues (tenuous), of ballads, of ni.rfiin-s, of lays, and of tales. These 
poets imitated not only the rhyme and rhythm of the troubadours, but some 
of their literary qualities, though they were more successful in copying their 
defects. It is easy to see that they did not derive their inspiration from the 
living fountains of antiquity, though the names of Guido Ghisleri and Guido 
Guinicelli, of Bologna, and of the two Florentines, Guido Cavalcanti and 
Guitone of Arezzo,.have come down to our own day. 

Dante, the true creator of Italian poetry, was also a native of Florence, 
and he was born there of patrician parents in 1265. Nature had intended 
him for a poet, though at first he devoted himself to the study of various 
sciences. Love of the highest and most elevated kind inspired him with his 
first verses. He was not yet ten years of age when he met Beatrix Portinari, 
who was the same age as himself, and to whom he addressed many tender and 
pensive pieces, which he afterwards incorporated in his " Vita Nuova." When 
she died in her twenty-fifth year he dedicated to her memory his immortal 
"Divine Comedy," a poem at once religious and philosophical, and divided 
into three parts : Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. This vast trilogy, the first 
part of which is in every way the best, is written in tiercets, or rhymed 
triplets ; it embraces every branch of human knowledge, and presents in 
allegorical shape a striking picture of the history of the age, and especially 
of the poet's contemporaries. Above all stands the pure and radiant image 
of Beatrix. It is in this incomparable poem that Dante, by a judicious 
selection of Italian dialects, and by transforming them into a unique and 
regular type, succeeded in establishing upon fixed principles the literary 
language of his country, which, though simple, clear, and powerful, had 
hitherto been somewhat rough and inchoate. Dante remains, after the lapse 
of six centuries, the great poet of Italy. 

None of the other nations of Europe produced any poet to equal him. In 

NATIONAL /'<>/: /'A')-. 


Fig. 338. The Mosque of Cordova, founded by Abderam I., King of the Moors, about 692. 

3 K 


England, where the Anglo-Saxon tongue had in the end become merged in 
the Franco-Norman dialect, an attempt was made to revive the national 
songs, and all that can be cited in the way of English poetry is a translation 
of the " Brut," by Wace, an imitation in verse of the Chronicle of Geoffroy 
of Monmouth by Eobert of Gloucester. Spain, where the Romanic language 
had become naturalised since the eleventh century, at least in the provinces 
not invaded by the Moors, did not even know the name of the author who 
wrote that poem of the " Cid " which she pointed to with pride as the first 
poetical record of her legendary history (Fig. 338). Spanish poets, amongst 
whom appear Alfonso II., King of Arragon, and Alfonso XI., King of Castile, 
had already celebrated in a language which, though somewhat rough and 
coarse, was energetic and noble, the loftiest sentiments of the human heart, 
especially warlike courage and love of country. The union of these popular 
ballads and romances formed in part the celebrated collection of "Romancero." 

The Minnesingers did not survive the extinction of the house of Swabia, 
which had always accorded them the highest favours. When the house of 
Hapsburg succeeded the Hohenstauffens the German nobility ceased to take 
any interest in arts and poetry, and Germany failed for a time to produce any 
poets. But towards the end of the reign of Rudolph I. (1291) the middle 
classes created a demand for singers, and the Meistersingers (masters of song), 
whose compositions answered the requirements of a public little versed in 
literature, extended their jurisdiction to poetry which, from sprightly and 
high-spirited as it was in the time of the Minnesingers, became staid and 
measured, not to say tame and tedious. The poets of this epoch are not 
worth mentioning by name, and it was not until the sixteenth century that 
the Meistersingers emerged from their obscurity. 

Dante gave the signal for the literary renaissance in Italy, to which 
Francis Petrarch, his contemporary, devoted his whole life. The latter was born 
at Arezzo in 1304, and died at Arqua, near Padua, in 1374. Thanks to the 
example which he set, classical study began to flourish anew, and Virgil 
and Horace were read as eagerly as they had been during the reign of 
Augustus. Petrarch, who had been immersed in study of the ancient poets, 
attempted at first to imitate them in Latin, but after he had met Laura cle 
Noves at Avignon his thoughts were solely concentrated upon pleasing her, 
and he wrote his "Rhymes" and his " Canzoni " in honour of her who had 
inspired him with a passion as delicate and pure as that of Dante for Beatrix. 



Petrarch, ill the "Canzoni," has given us the most perfect type of the Italian 
ode, and while he rises at times to the height of Pindar and Horace, his 
poetical outbursts are tnnprml 1>\ an accent of sorrow and melancholy 
peculiar to himself. He did not lack imitators, but none of them came up to 
the original ; and his friend Boccaccio, who had perfected Italian prose, wrote 

Fig. 339. The Horse Pegasus. " Behold a Flying Horse, called Pegasus, and several Nobles, 
some armed and some without arms, of all conditions, kings, princes, and others, which lift up 
their hands to try and touch the said Horse, but ore not able to do so." Miniature from the 
" Enseignemcnt de vraye Noblesse." Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (No. 11,049). In 
the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

but a small number of sonnets, and his first Italian epode, the " Theseide," is 
far inferior to his " Decamcrone." 

Almost at the same period, a Scotch poet, Archdeacon of Aberdeen, 
composed an epic poem in the Scotch dialect upon the achievements of 
Robert Bruce, the liberator of Scotland. Previously to this the first of the 


epic poems which appeared in Great Britain, there had been written a few 
poems concerning the wars of King Edward III. against Philip of Valois and 
John II. of France. But the writers are not to be compared with John 
Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer, who had taken as their models the ancient French 
trouveurs, and who imitated them without citing their authority. Gowcr, in 
particular, contributed to purify the language of poetry, and Chaucer, in 
spite of his imitations, which amount to plagiarism, showed that he was the 
superior in point of style, if not in invention, to Marie do France, Rutebcuf, 
William de Lorris, and Jean de Meung. 

The literary reputation of Jean de Meung lasted for more than two 
centuries after his death (1320), though French poetry had taken another 
shape to suit the taste of the ladies, who, by becoming queens of the tourna- 
ments and of other fetes of chivalry, brought about a sort of poetic revival, 
not only in France, but in all countries where French was the language of the 
aristocracy. The satires directed more especially against the fair sex had seen 
their best day, and though Eustache Deschamps sought to revive them by 
paraphrasing, in his " Miroir du Manage," Juvenal's satire upon women, 
poetry once more acquired the gallant and amorous characteristics which it 
had inherited from the troubadours. The chronicler, Jean Froissart, who was 
at one time clerk to Queen Philippa of Hainault, wife of King Edward III. 
of England, relates that he " narrated to her interesting stories or treatises on 
love." The poems of Froissart, written in the Rouchi-French dialect of 
Valenciennes, often have a smack of the troubadour school and of William dc 
Lorris's " Romance of the Rose." These poems, which run smoothly enough, 
but which are wordy and colourless, are specially interesting from an auto- 
biographical point of view, as the author is continually alluding to himself 
even in his pastorals and his nuptial songs. 

The professional poets who succeeded the trouveurs attempted to revive 
the literature of chansons de geste and romances of chivalry, which they 
revised and adapted to modern usage ; but, as they made no effort to abridge 
them, these poems only became, under their treatment, heavier and more 
prosy. They did better with the Chronicle in verse, which they continued to 
call by the name of romance even when they were treating of contemporary 
subjects, as, for instance, Cuvelier in the " Chronique de Bertrand du 
Guesclin." Moreover, the poetical romances of the fourteenth century are 
remarkable for their immense length and unbroken dulness. The court 



poetry was more lively and graceful, consisting as it did of nongs and ballads, 
of viivlays and roundelays. Mustache Desrhamps, who wrote an "Art dr 
Dietier," in which he set forth the rules of these various kinds of fashionahlr 
poelrv, iiil'onns us but his statement is a poetical license that formerly no 

Fig. 340. Legend of the " Trois Morts et des Trois Vifs," Poetry of the Fourteenth Century.- 
From a Miniature of an " Antiphonalc." Manuscript of the Sixteenth Century, No. 6,614. 
In the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

one ventured to write poetry of this kind "unless he was noble" (Fig. 339). 
This same Eustachc Deschamps, a warrior, a traveller, and a magistrate, 
whose writings extend over more than eighty years, has left behind him 
nearly a hundred thousand lines of poetry, most of which was ballad. 11'- 


applied the ballad to all kinds of subjects, and with him it sometimes rises to 
the height of the ode. Deschamps was an austere and serious poet, who 
showed no mercy to vice and to abuses, and the patriotic spirit of his poetry 
comes out in his maledictions against the English, while he shows himself a 
man of feeling by his regretful allusions to the sufferings of the people. It 
was in this mournful period that was written the popular poem of the 
" Danse Macabre " (" Dance of Death "), represented in Fig. 340. Christina de 
Pisan, daughter of the astrologer of Charles V., also composed a number of 
ballads and roundelays, marked with the impress of melancholy, which are of 

Fig. 341. Alain Chartier comforted by Hope. Cameo Miniature from the "Triumph of Hope," 
Allegory on the Political Events in the Eeign of Charles VII. Unpublished Manuscript of the 
Sixteenth Century. In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot. Paris. 

more merit than her long historical and moral poems. Most of them testify 
to her love for France, and her sentiments are noble and elevated, though the 
style is feeble and confused. 

There was a steady increase in the number of French poets, and the poetry 
itself, especially the court poetry, continued to improve. Alain Chartier, 
whose immense reputation was made at the French court, did much to bring 
about this progress. His " Breviary of the Nobles " was a sort of gospel for 
the nobility, and Jean le Masle affirms that during the reign of Francois I. 



the pages and young gentlemen of the court were compelled to leum verses 
from it by heart, and recite them regularly every day, as the clergy do their 
breviary. In addition to the "Book of the Four Ladies," which contains 

Fig. 342. The Author of the Poem entitled " Le Dehat de la Noire et de la TanneV' Miniature 
from Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, 

some exquisite pages written in a style full of vigour and poesy, Alain 
Chartier ccmiposed a great number of ballads, love-sayings, elegies, and 
laments (Fig. 341). lie was the favourite of kings, queens, princes, and 


nobles, in spite of his deformity and ugliness. It is told how the Dauphiness 
Margaret -of Scotland, coming upon him one day while asleep, kissed him 
upon the mouth, from which, says Etienne Pasquier, " issued so many golden 
words and virtuous discourses." He died in 1458, at the age of seventy-five. 
One of his pupils, Duke Charles of Orleans, who, taken prisoner at Agincourt, 
remained a captive in England for the rest of his youth, consoled himself by 
writing French and English verses, most of them gallant, spiritual, and 
pensive, into many of which he introduced the metaphysical personages of 
the " Romance of the Rose." He had around him in London, as well as at 
his Chateau de Blois in France, a sort of court of love and poetry, the 
members of which vied with each other in composing ballads and roundelays. 
Charles of Orleans often imitated the troubadours and the Italian poets 
Petrarch amongst others. His imagination was lively and gay, he indulged 
in many humorous sallies, and his soul overflowed with true and generous 

The court poetry led, by the natural effect of contradiction and strife, to 
the birth of a poetry which was of truly popular origin. One of the first 
essays in this new kind of poetry, which emanated from the genuine emotions 
of the mind, was, however, made by a man of noble birth, Jean Regnier, 
Seigneur de Guerchy, who, notwithstanding his birth and his fortune, did 
not think it beneath him to declare his sentiments with pathetic 
sincerity. He was at the time in prison at Beauvais, and he was 
about to be tried for high treason. His painful position made him a 
poet, and, as a preparation for death, he evoked the muse. After he had 
bemoaned his " Fortunes et Adversitez " he became resigned to his fate, and 
he drew up a will in rhyme, half earnest, half jocular, which was doubtless 
the type taken for his two " Testaments " by Villon, who, though he does not 
imitate Regnier word for word, undoubtedly had his work before him when 
he began to write his " Petit Testament " in the Chatelet prison, where he was 
under confinement for his misdeeds. Villon, a student of the University of 
Paris, was said to have committed a murder and several robberies, and after 
being fortunate enough to escape the gibbet, he again was guilty of some 
misdeed, for which he was imprisoned at Meung. It was there that lie 
composed his best work, the " Grand Testament," owing to which, and to 
the intervention of Duke Charles of Orleans, he obtained a commutation of 
his sentence. This work is a singular compound of wild gaiety, of keen 



satire, of profound sensibility, of calm judgment, and of pensive melan- 
choly. A'illon is beyond all doubt a great poet, at once natural and 
independent ; he is distinguished for his lively imagination, his wit, and his 
good feeling ; and though the form of his poetry has become obsolete, the 

Fig. 343. The Castle of Loves. Miniature taken from the " Champion des Dames." Manuscript 
of the Fifteenth Century (No. 12,476). In the National Library, Paris. 

matter itself has lost none of its freshness. It would seem as if scapegraces 
were pools by nature, for two of Villon's companions, Henri Baude and 
Jourdain, surnamed the Unfortunate, were his rivals in poetry as in miscon- 
duct. The former was the author of the " Debat de la Dame et de 1'ficuyer," 

3 L 


and of numerous other clever pieces, while the latter composed the " Jardin de 
Plaisancej" which contained several verses written by his friends in addition 
to those of his own composing. 

The example set by Villon, whoso popularity was greatest amongst the 
students of the University of Paris, led to the publication of a host of other 
satiric poems, mostly by anonymous authors, which were propagated amongst 
the middle and lower classes by the newly discovered printing-press. This is 
a striking proof as to the popularity of these fugitive pieces, which M. 
Anatole de Montaignon and Baron James de Rothschild are endeavouring to 
incorporate into one vast anthology. Amongst these are the " Complaintes," 
"Dits," "Debats" (Fig. 342), "Monologues," "Testaments," "Sermons 
Joyeux," &c., in which the sharpness of French wit shines with great 
brilliancy. It is certain that many of these trenchant and comic poems were 
retailed from the stage by strolling players, and respectable people certainly 
looked upon them .as scandalous, and took care not to read them. It was 
accordingly sought to counteract the bad use to which poetry was put, and in 
several French towns, at Toulouse, Amiens, and Caen amongst others, there 
were instituted " Floral Games," " Chambers of Rhetoric," " Puys," and 
" Palinods," and poets were appealed to to devote their inspiration to the 
composition of edifying and moral works. These poets set themselves more 
especially to glorify the blessed Virgin and her Immaculate Conception, com- 
posing royal songs, ballads, and cantos, which were awarded, after competition, 
different prizes. This was the origin of the academies and literary societies 
in France. 

The French poetical school united a great variety of talents in the fifteenth 
century. Martin Franc, in his "Champion des Dames " (Fig. 343), made an 
attempt to revive the allegorical style of Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de 
Meung, but at the same period Olivier Basselin, master fuller of Vire, created 
the " Vau de Vire," an epicurean, convivial, and libertine song, while drinking 
his JSTormaii cider. These songs have unfortunately only reached us in a 
modernised and disfigured shape. Guillaume Coquillart, though a clerk and 
ecclesiastical doctor at Rheims, gave full play to his caustic wit and free 
Gallic Immour in his farcical "Monologues;" Martial of Auvergne set to 
rhyme the "Vigils of King Charles VII.," but his verse is rather dull and 
monotonous ; Jean Meschinot, of Nantes, set to poetry the " Lettres des 
Princes " for the Duke of Brittany, to whose household he was attached as 



"ducal ]>ort ;" and Andre de la Vigne and Guillaume Cretin did the 

for the royal house of France. But the deplorable influence of the poets of 

the court of Burgundy began to tell with futul effect upon French poetry. 

Fig 344. The Vanity of Human Things. Miniature from the Allegorical Poem, " Le Chevalier 
d&libere," upon the Death of Charles the Hold, by Olivier de la Marche. Manuscript of the 
Fifteenth Century, No. 173. In the Arsenal Library, Paris. 

Pierre Michault, Olivier de la Marche (Fig. 344), Georges Chastelain, and 
Jean Molinet conceived the idea of creating difficulties of rhythm, metre, and 
rhyme, which gave their poetrv a mongrel and barbarous physiognomy. 


Guillaume Cretin and Jean d'Auton, both of whom were chroniclers of King 
Louis XII., went even further in this direction, and Jean Lemaire (born at 
Beiges, in Hainault), to whom French prosody probably owes some beneficial 
reforms, had great difficulty in avoiding these bad examples. 

Poetry was not so flourishing in other parts of Europe. In Spain, where 
the works of the Provencal troubadours were still imitated, this was the era of 
gallant poetry, one of the favourite forms for a poem being the rcdondilla, in 
which the writer exhausted every resource of the language to describe his 
sentiments. These poems were in especial favour at the court of John II., 
King of Castile, and amongst the most gifted composers of them were the 

Fig. 345. Extract from the "Cancionero" of Juan Alfonso de Baena. Original Manuscript 
(Fifteenth Century). In the National Library, Paris. 

Marquis de Villena and Juan de Mena (Fig. 345). Part of these sentimental 
and lackadaisical poems, to which no less than a hundred and forty authors 
contributed, were collected in 1516 into a book entitled "Cancionero General." 
Portugal, like Spain, sought her models from among the troubadours, whom 
it was striven to imitate, and even to translate. But these timid efforts ended 
in the invention of the pastoral romance, which represented the love-passages 
of the shepherds and shepherdesses. This artificial style, which, though 
sometimes pleasing, was more often flat and tiresome, was destined to take its 
place in the literature of all lands, and so great is the force of habit to retain 


it for a long time. England, however, was an exception to the rule ; and 
since the death of Chaucer, her poets, or rather her versifiers, had confined 
themselves to imitating the " Romance of the Rose," and to paraphrasing the 
histories of mythology. 

In Italy, after the death of Petrarch, poetry declined in spite of all the 
efforts made by Coluccio, Burchiello, and Arispa to revive it. A few poems 
on chivalry, such as " Buovo d'Antona," " La Spagna," &c., might be passed 
over without notice, had they not led up to the brilliant writings of Boiardo 

Fig. 346. Portrait of Sannazar. Fac-simile, on a reduced Scale, of an anonymous Engraving of 
the Sixteenth Century, published at Borne by Ant. Salamanca. In the Library of M. Ambroise 
Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

and Ariosto. Laurenzio de' Medici, however, the gonfalonnier of the 
Florentine Republic, awoke the spirit of Italian poetry in 1469 by his 
" Canti Carnavaleschi " ("Carnival Songs "), and he was seconded in his efforts 
by Politien and Pulci, though the former was one of the most fanatical 
partisans of the ancient classics. Latin poetry had, it may be remarked, 
many staunch votaries throughout the Middle Ages, and their works, consist- 
ing of centos of Virgil, Horace, and Lucan, were in continuous and numerous 


circulation throughout Europe. The renaissance of ancient literature in Italy 
during the fifteenth century told much in favour of their efforts to apply the 
Latin language to modern subjects. Thus Sannazar (Fig. 346), surnamed 
the Christian Virgil, excited more enthusiasm with his poems, " De Partu 
Virginia " and " Lamentatio de Morte Christi," than with his beautiful poems 
written in Italian. In fact, there was throughout the whole of learned 
Europe, from the fifteenth to the sixteenth century, a Latin poetry con- 
sisting of a mass of works of the most varied kind, which were welcomed and 
praised, especially by the most highly educated. 

Next we have the old romances of chivalry, appearing in the shape of 
poems in ottava rima ; the romance of " King Arthur of Brittany and the 
Knights of the Round Table," " Charlemagne and his Twelve Peers." Here we 
have the Italian epode, a mixture of grave and gay. Pulci writes his 
"Morgante Maggiore," the hero of which is a great jester; Bello, called the 
Blind Man of Ferrara, writes his " Mambriano," who pursues Renaud de 
Montauban amidst a series of the most fanciful and burlesque adventures. 
Boiardo also seeks for inspiration in the Chronicle of Turpin, and depicts 
the court of Charlemagne in his " Orlando Innamorato," which would be a 
masterpiece of the poet's style, were it not so curt and so affected. Ludovico 
Ariosto, called the Ariosto (Fig. 347), born at Reggio in 1474, would not 
undertake to rewrite the epic poem of Boiardo, but he continued it with the 
" Orlando Furioso," one of the most remarkable productions of picturesque 
poetry, and far before the " Orlando Innamorato." Ariosto's poem combines 
every charm variety of imagination, descriptive power, grace and elegance 
of style, and powerful dramatic incident. Like Homer, Ariosto was surnamed 
the Divine, and his poem remains the type of the Romanic epode, as the 
Iliad was the masterpiece of the heroic epode. 

Ariosto, in his " Capitoli Amorosi " and his many light pieces of poetry, 
preserved his superiority over his numerous imitators, none of wfiom ventured 
to compete with him in epic poetry. Berni rewrote the " Orlando Inna- 
morato," and he had perfected the burlesque mode of composition, and given 
his name to what was called Hcniesqtte poetry. Yet Petrarch had more than 
a hundred imitators, none of whom could come up or near to their model. 
Didactic poetry spent itself in pale imitations of Virgil and of Juvenal, and 
the poem of the " Bees " is a literal translation of the fourth book of the 
Georgics, of which Alamainii presented a mere counterfeit in the " Colti- 

.\\77o.VAr. POETRy. 447 

va/ione." Trissino endeavoured to compose an epic ]>ooin upon the deliver- 
ance of Italy from the Goths, and he used blank verse, which was not very 
\\rll received by the fervent admirers of the ottani ninn. Italian poetry 
had not, therefore, any influence upon Spanish poetry, which was devoted 
almost entirely to works touching upon love and gallantry. Boscan Almo- 
gaver and Garcilaso de la Vega were very successful in shaping their 
inspirations into the compass of the sonnet ; and while the latter was bringing 
the pastoral into fashion, Diego Ilurtado de Mendoza wrote epistles in imita- 

Fig. 347. Portrait of Ariosto. Reduced Fac-simile of an anonymous Engraving of the Sixteenth 
Century, published at Rome by Ant. Salamanca. In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin- 
Didot, Paris. 

tion of Horace. The pastoral was always the favourite style of poetry with 
the Portuguese, and Ribeiro surpassed all his predecessors in this style. 

The breath of the Italian renaissance was not felt in France till after 
the reigns of Charles VIII. and Louis XII. The poetry which was then in 
greatest favour at the court was still tainted with Flemish influence, and 
people admired the jingle of such rhymes &s fraternisecs, bribes, equiroquees, 


fouronnees, bqtelees, which Guillaume Cretin made use of with all the cunning 
of a juggler. The reminiscences of the " Eomance of the Rose " were revived 
by Gringore's "Chateau de Labour," by Clement Marot's "Temple de 
Cupidon," by the "Loups Ravissants," and by the "Espinette du Jeune 
Prince conquerant le Royaume de Bonne Renommee." Jean Marot and 
Octavian de St. Gelais put into verse the diary of the expeditions of 
Charles VIII. and Louis XII. The popular muse inspired only two poets 
Roger de Collerie and Pierre Gringore, who in every branch of poetry 
preserved the stamp of his proverbial and witty style. The epoch of 
Francois I. seemed to renew the language, if not the form, of poetry, by 
imposing upon the writer who aimed at being read a frank, simple, and 
sprightly style. Clement Marot was the real restorer of this eminently 
French style. He had not the genius to write great works, and he was too 
buoyant and too Gallic to think of composing long poems which no one 
would have read. . He composed merely roundelays, epistles, elegies, chants 
royal, ballads, epigrams, and madrigals, which latter were as yet called 
epigrams also, as in the Greek anthology. It was in epigram that Clement 
Marot was so much the superior of all other poets, and for fifteen years his 
delicate, graceful, and witty style found him numberless admirers and 
imitators ; but when he placed his services at the disposal of the Reformed 
Church, and, at the request of Calvin, translated into hymns the Psalms 
of David, he lost all his merits as a poet. His school, which numbered 
a few charming versifiers Bonaventure des Periers, Victor Brodeau, and 
Charles Fontaine amongst others remained in favour with the court, thanks 
to Fran9ois I., the friend and pupil of Marot. It was that monarch who 
conceived the idea of translating into French verse all the Greek and Latin 
poets : Homer, by Hugues Salel ; Ovid, by Clement Marot ; Virgil, by Michael 
of Tours and Octavian de St. Gelais ; and Horace, by Francois Habert. 
The poetry of Mellin de St. Gelais, who was looked upon as the only rival of 
Marot, already showed signs of being imitated from the Italian, and though 
the ideas were ingenious and correct, the style was a mixture of pretentious 
affectation and of Italian concetti. 

The Reformation, it must be said, was everywhere fatal to language and 
literature, and it dealt a specially severe blow at German poetry. Hans Sach, 
the Nuremberg shoemaker, is perhaps the only poet who, trying his hand at all 
branches of poetry, ventured to brave the Lutheran intolerance. In England, 


whither Protestantism had not yet reached, several poets of society were in 
great favour : William Ihuibur, with his allegorical poem of the " Golden 
Buckler," and David Lindsay and Wyatt, with their satires ; while Lord 
Surrey had introduced blank verse into English poetry, and translated the 
-^neid. In Italy, too, which the Reformation never reached, the school of 
Petrarch seemed to spring into renewed life. Bembo was the instigator of 
this resurrection of amorous poetry ; for though his own imitations of Petrarch 
were but feeble, the Petrarchists or Bembists, as they ought rather to be 
called responded to his appeal to the number of five or six hundred. Other 
poets, though not despising the sonnets of Petrarch, endeavoured to embody 
different subjects in new forms. Angelo de Costanzo and Camillo Peregrini 
returned to lyric poetry, Bernardino Balbi to didactic poetry, and Benti- 
voglio and Pietro Aretino to satirical poetry. Torquato Tasso, the son of 
Bernardino Tasso, who obtained great celebrity for his poem of chivalry upon 
the "Amadis," undertook to write the great epic poem of modern times, 
"Jerusalem Delivered." This is a true epic poem, based, not like that of 
Virgil, upon the fabled traditions of the siege of Troy, but upon the positive, 
though almost miraculous, facts appertaining to the history of the Middle 
Ages. Tasso is not inferior to Homer: his poem is equal to the Iliad. 
But his style noble, poetical, and admirable as it is is often spoilt by traits 
of bad taste and by insipid play upon words. Yet we may say that the glory 
of Tasso lighted up the sixteenth century. 

After this every nation was desirous of having its epic poem. Spain, which 
possessed several good cancione writers, such as Herrera, Castillejo, and Lope 
de Vega, found Alonzo de Ercilla to write an epic poem called " Araucana " 
upon the conquest of Chili by his fellow-countrymen ; but endless digressions 
and useless episodes marred the brilliant style and descriptions contained in 
this work. Portugal was more fortunate ; for Camoens, who chose for the 
subject of his national epode the voyage of Vasco de Gama, which he con- 
nected with the general history of his country, wrote his poem of " Lusiades " 
upon the very spots still redolent of his hero. The defects of Camoens in the 
arrangement of his story and in his choice of the marvellous are only too 
patent, but the grandeur of his ideas attracts and delights the reader, while 
his abundant and harmonious style lends itself well to the dramatic character 
of the scenes and the highly coloured descriptions of a work which in some 
passages reaches the sublime. Camoens died in obscurity and extreme poverty. 

3 M 


Germany seemed to have become impenetrable to the rays of poetry, but 
the Northern peoples began to feel their influence. The Danes possessed in 
Peter Laland a national poet in the first years of the sixteenth century, while, 
previously to this, the Swedes had had Eric Ola'i, who set their chronicles to 
rhyme. Poland, whose national poetry does not date further back than the 
fifteenth century, possessed a certain number of poets whose very names were 
scarcely known to the rest of Europe ; amongst others, Nicholas Rey dc 
Naglovice and Jean Kochanowski, called the Prince of Poets, who formed 
a friendship with Ronsard while staying in Paris. In Holland Dirk 
Koornhert created national poetry, and, following upon a few translators 
of the Psalms, Roemer Wisscher and Spiegel laid down the principles of 
versification. It was in England that the poetical movement was the most 
brilliant and the most active. Spenser invented a new kind of pastoral, in 
which the shepherds spoke in the language of shepherds instead of in that 
of courtiers. His allegorical poem, the " Faery Queen," had an even greater 
success than the " Shepherd's Calendar." His contemporaries, Sidney, 
Raleigh, Marlowe, and Green Watson, composed light poetry full of 
simplicity and grace. Robert Southwell, Samuel Daniel, and John Davies 
drew their inspirations from religion and philosophy ; while, at the close of 
the century, there appeared two poems, " Venus and Adonis " and the " Rape 
of Lucretia," the author of which was the immortal Shakspere. 

The second half of the sixteenth century witnessed a complete meta- 
morphosis of poetry in France. A few poets had remained true to the school 
of Clement Marot, who died in poverty abroad. Marguerite de Valois, 
Queen of Navarre, would have been one of the most charming types of this 
school, if her attachment to the doctrines of the Reformation had not clouded 
her ideas and depressed her style (Fig. 348). Two other female poets 
retarded the decadence of Marotism, viz. two women of Lyons Pernette du 
Guillet and Louise Labe, the latter of whom was the mysterious muse of 
Olivier de Magny. Etienne Forcadel composed some neat epigrams and 
clever epistles; Peletier of Le Mans, who had an unfortunate mania for 
constructing a new way of spelling, wrote his Poetical Works in plain and 
excellent French ; while Maurice Sceve, in his poem " Delie," followed the 
teaching given him by his friend Clement Marot. There is no need to say 
anything about such feeble poets as Artus Desire, Guillaume des Autels, 
and Barthelemy Aneau, whose compositions are involved and obscure. By 


this time the Italian influence was everywhere apparent, and it was Joachim 
du Bellay who gave the signal for the literary revolution, by advising his 
youthful rivals to imitate the Greeks and the Romans, while declaring 
himself a devoted partisan of the French language, which was being 
sacrificed to the Italian. The poets who responded to his appeal overshot 
the mark without hitting it, and were only inaccurate translators of the 
ancient classics, instead of imitating it with intelligence and fidelity. 

It was in a small Paris college that Joachim du Bellay formed, under the 

Fig. 348. Portrait of Marguerite do Valois, Queen of Navarre, after a Pencil- Drawing of the 
Time. In the Museum of (he Louvre, Paris. 

eyes of his professor of humanities, Jean Daurat, the poetical association, 
consisting of seven members, which was called the Pleiad. These seven 
poets were Baif, Du Bellay, Remy Belleau, J. Daurat, Jodelle, Ponthus de 
Thyard, and Ronsard (Figs. 349 to 355), who was proclaimed unanimously 
their supreme chief. For half a century Pierre Ronsard remained the master 
of French poetry. While still a youth he had formed the project of writing 
a national epic poem, to be called the " Franciade," upon the model of 
Virgil's .ZEneid, but he only published four cantos of this epode, which 



was to have had twenty-four. His Francus, son of Hector, was not, in 
truth, worthy to figure by the side of ^Eneas, son of Priam. Ronsard was 
called the Pindar of France, though he was utterly lacking in lyrical inspira- 
tion. His odes, with their accumulation of strophes and antistrophes, were 

Fig. 349. Portrait of Fig. 350. Portrait of J. du Bellay. Fig. 351. Portrait of Eemy 
Bai'f. Belleau. 

Fac-simile of Engravings by Leonard Gaultier, from the Series known as " Chronologic collee." 
In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

but feeble counterfeits of the odes of Pindar ; his language, overladen with 
Greek and Latin words, is far too hyperbolic, and is obscured by the array of 
mythological lore. Yet he possessed in the highest degree nobility of style 

Fig. 352. Portrait of 
J. Daurat. 

Fig. 353. Portrait of Jodelle. 

Fig. 354. Portrait of 
P. Ronsard. 

Fac-simile of Engravings by Leonard Gaultier, from the Series known as " Chronologie collee." 
In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

and harmony of rhythm, and he imitated with success both Horace and 
Theocritus ; but he distinguished himself the most in his imitations of 
Anacreon, whose writings had just been exhumed by Henri Estienne. 


Ronsard was, beyond all doubt, a poet ; but his writings arc tedious, though 
here and there lighted up by some trait of vigour and brilliancy. His 
reputation was a European one, and Mary Stuart, who beguiled the hours 
of her captivity by reading his works, sent him a Parnassus in solid silver, 
with the inscription, " A Ronsard, 1'Apollo de la source des Muses." 

The most distinguished poet of the Pleiad was unquestionably Joachim 
du Bellay, who founded it. " His language," remarks the critic Ge'rusez, 
" is a perfected imitation of that of Marot, with more attention as to the 
copying of Latin or Italian." Du Bellay had good taste, which was a point 

Pig. 353. Portrait of Ponthus de Thyard. Reduced Fac-simile of the Engraving of Thomas de 
Leu. In the Library of M. Ambroise Finnin-Didot, Paris. 

in which Ronsard and the rest of the Pleiad were lacking; and he also 
possessed sensibility and elevation of feeling, and deserved the surname of 
the French Ovid. The remainder were very inferior to him : Ba'if was heavy, 
pretentious, and pedantic ; Remy BeUeau, surnamed the gentil Bellcau, had 
nothing pedantic about him, and did not attempt to write anything but pretty 
verses ; Jodelle, who was one of the founders of the Theatre in France, wrote 
a mixture of French and Greek ; Ponthus de Thyard, who wrote more prose 
than verse, got a bishopric out of the former ; while Daurat composed only 
a few French verses, all the rest of his works being in Greek and Latin. 


But around the Pleiad there were several poets superior to those who com- 
posed it-: Berenger de la Tour, the best bucolic poet of the age, author 
of the " Siecle d'Or " and the " Amie Rustique ; " Olivier de Magny, a great 
lyric poet, as may be gathered from his " Amours," " Odes," " Soupirs," and 
"Gaietes;" Amadis Jamyn, Ronsard's favourite pupil, and the writer of 
several charming pieces which have more life in them than those of his 
master ; and Guillaume du Bartas, the creator of descriptive poetry, who, in 
his poem upon the creation of the world, entitled " La Semaine," reached 
almost at once the sublime and the ridiculous. 

It is most wonderful that France, amidst her civil and religious wars, 
and the terrible disorder which prevailed during the reigns of Charles IX. 
and Henri III., should have produced such a number of poets that it is 
impossible to name them all. Everybody wrote and admired poetry at the 
court of the Valois kings, princes, nobles, and ladies alike. Every kind 
of poetry ambitious and familiar, amorous and melancholy was repre- 
sented by one or more works of merit, and we can only afford space to mention 
the bare names of a few writers : Marc-Claude de Buttet, a native of Savoy ; 
Flaminio de Birague, an Italian who had been naturalised French ; See vole 
de St. Marthe, a Loudunois gentleman ; Madame des Roches, of Poitiers ; 
Guillaume Belliard, of Blois ; Jean Passerat ; Etienne Pasquier, &c. A 
special mention must, however, be made of Philippe Desportes, who excelled 
in gallant poetry ; of Jean Bertaut, distinguished in the same way ; of Jean 
and Jacques de la Taille, better known as dramatic poets ; and lastly, of 
Agrippa d'Aubigne, who may be termed the Petronius and Juvenal of the 
sixteenth century. 

But Malherbe, who had just been born, was destined, in the course of his 
attacks upon the Ronsard school, to form the new French poetics, of which 
his odes represent the most perfect model and style. 


First Historians of the Church. The Last Latin and Greek Historians. Latin Chronicles: 
Marius, Cassiodorus, Jornandes. Gregory of Tours. Fr6deguire. Monastic Chronicles. 
Chronicles from the Eighth to the Eleventh Century Historians of the Crusades. Historians 

of Foreign Countries. Latin Chronicles of the Abbey of St. Denis Chronicles in Rhyme. 

Early French Chronicles. Villehardouin. The Sire de Joinville Chronicles of St. -Denis. 
Froissart. Monstrelet. Chastcllain. French Translations of the Ancient Historians. 
Library of Charles V. Chroniclers of the Fifteenth Century. Historians of the Court of 
Burgundy. Private Chronicles and Lives of Illustrious Men. Personal Memoirs. Histories 
of France in the Sixteenth Century. 

|ONG before the invasions of the Barbarians the 
countless books of history written by Greek 
and Latin authors concerning the annals of 
the ancient peoples had been falling into 
disfavour. Even the best of them were little 
read, for the Christians felt but slight interest 
in these pagan narratives, and this is why 
works relating to the history of antiquity 
were already so scarce. 

The Church, however, inspired some new 
historians, who set to write its early annals. Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, 
during the reign of Coustantine, composed in Greek an Ecclesiastical History 
in ten books, from the birth of Christ to the death of Licinius (324) ; and 
Paulus Orosius, a disciple of St. Augustine, composed in Latin, during the 
early part of the fifth century, seven books of History against the Pagans 
(" Historiurum adversus Paganos Libri VII."), into which he introduced 
many interesting popular traditions, narrating the history of the world from 
the time of Adam to the year 316 A. D. A few Latin writers still strove, as 
late as the fourth century, to write history after the fashion of Livy, Tacitus, and 
Suetonius ; and Aurelius Victor, surnamed Af ricanus, wrote at Rome, of which 


city lie was prefect, a History of the Emperors, beginning from Augustus, 
and a summary treatise of the illustrious men of Rome (" De Viris Illustribus 
Urbis Romae"), which has often been attributed to Pliny the younger and 
Cornelius Nepos. Flavius Eutropius, who was a soldier and a statesman, com- 
piled an Abridgment of Roman History ("Breviarium Rerum Romanarum") 
in ten books, from the foundation of Rome to the reign of the Emperor Valens ; 
and Ammianus Marcellinus, a native of Antioch, who took part in the wars 
waged by the Emperor Julian in Gaul and Germany, completed in after life 
an immense History of the Roman Emperors, from the reign of Nerva to that 
of Valentinianus, but the first thirteen books of which are lost. This History, 
though its style is uncouth, forms a brilliant termination to the series of Latin 
histories of the empire. 

But in the fifth century, while the barbarian hordes were pouring in upon 
the Old World by way of Spain, Gaul, and Italy, where they founded fresh 
states, the empire of the East became the asylum for a new historic school, 
which grew remarkable for a number of great works emanating from 
Christian thought, and intended to celebrate the triumph of the Christian 
religion. Philostorgius wrote in Greek a general History of the Church, 
which is only known to us by the abridgment of it made by Photius ; Socrates 
continued the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius from the year 306 to^439 ; 
Sozomen, born in Palestine, compiled an excellent History of the Church, 
in nine books, from the year 324 to 439 ; and Theodoret, Bishop of Syria, 
also edited an Ecclesiastical History, in five books, of the same period. It 
would appear as if the genius of history was concentrated upon the annals of 
the Church, when arose quarrels and disputes as keen as those which were 
formerly provoked by politics alone. This new kind of history seems better 
adapted to Greek literature, though three or four of the Latiu writers appear 
to have preserved the best traditions of their language. The priest Rufinus, 
who had been intimate with St. Jerome, and who had lived in retirement in 
Sicily, where he died (410), translated the History of Eusebius into passable 
Latin ; Sulpicius Severus, his contemporary, a more elegant and correct 
writer, although born in Aquitaine, and who never left Gaul, where he had 
followed the apostleship of St. Martin, composed an Abridgment of Sacred 
History from the creation of the world to the year 410 A.D., and this excellent 
book earned the surname of the Christian Sallust. 

The Greek language, the existence of which was henceforward inseparable 

CHRONfCI.KS, ///.S7YMYA-.V, .IfKMofRS. 457 

from the empire of the East, was perpetuated, with most of its essential 
qualities, in a mass of historical works written in (iivt-k, clown to the capture 
of Constantinople by Mahomet II. ; but the Latin language, on the contrary, 
had been subjected to the inevitable mixture of the national idioms of all the 
barbaric peoples which had collected in different parts of the Roman empire. 
The Latin language, though more and more corrupted and changed, continued 
none the less to be the official language of the clergy and of the higher civil 
administration. Nothing but Latin was spoken at the court of Odoacer, King 
of the Ileruli, and at the court of Theodoric, King of the Goths. Thus books 
of political rather than of religious history continued to be written in Latin. 
It was in this semi-barbarous tongue that the Western historians of the sixth 
and seventh centuries compiled their Chronicles, while the Greek historians 
were publishing excellent Histories after the style of Folybius and Dion 
Cassius: Agathias the Scholastic, the History of the Reign of Justinian; 
Procopius of Cacsarea, secretary to Belisarius, the History of his Time ; 
Thcophylactus Simocatta, the History of the Emperor Maurice, &c. 

The Latin Chronicles, composed during this dreary epoch of the Middle 
Ages, are none the less valuable and interesting. The most ancient of them 
relates to France, or rather to the part of Gaul occupied by the Franks : that, 
of Marius of Autun, Bishop of Avenche, in Helvetia. It begins with the 
reign of Avitus in 455, and terminates in 581 : written in a clear and simple 
style, it relates more especially to the reign of Gontran, King of Burgundy, 
and contains some accurate information as to the geography of Gaul. It had 
been written to serve as a sequel to the Abridgment of the Universal History 
compiled by Prosper of Aquitaine, and is in consequence dry and concise, like 
most Chronicles of the time. Cassiodorus, the minister of King Theodoric, 
gave freer scope to his rhetoric in a voluminous History of the Goths, of 
which we possess only an excellent abridgment (" De Gothorum Origine et 
Rebus Gestis ") by Jornandes, Bishop of Ravenna, who also composed a short 
Universal History. St. Isidore, Bishop of Seville, who died in 636, also wrote 
a Chronicle from the time of Adam, and a History of the Goths, the Vandals, 
the Suevi, and the Visigoths, amidst whom he had passed his life. 

The most ancient and valuable record of French history is the great work 
of Gregory of Tours, who in his " Histoire Ecclesiastique des Francs " gave 
a faithful description of the events in which he took part. Born in 
Auvergne, of a patrician family which had produced several senators and 

3 N 


prelates, he was brought up by his uncle, St. Gall, Bishop of Clermont, and 
was himself made Bishop of Tours in 573. The esteem in which he was held 
at the court of Chilperic and Fredegoiide enabled him to play a conspicuous 
part in the political affairs of the Merovingian monarchy ; he had been mixed up 
in the most secret transactions of Chilperic's reign, and was conversant with all 
the details of the deadly struggle between the rival Queens, Fredegoiide and 
Brunehaut. This, no doubt, was the reason which induced him to write his 

Fig. 356 Equestrian Statue of Clovis, King of the Franks (465 511), by Erwin de Steinbuch 
(Thirteenth Century), placed over the Western Portico of Strasburg Cathedral. 

History. His book, commencing with the origin of France, embraces a period 
of 174 years, from the establishment of the Franks in Gaul about the year 
429. The first part of this History is written after Sidonius Apollinaris, St. 
Remy, Bishop of Rheims, the " Acts of the Saints," and, above all, after oral 
tradition (Fig. 356). With regard to the events of the last fifty years 
recorded in his History, Gregory of Tours writes what he had himself seen, or 

r//Avy.v/r/./-;,s, ///STORIES, MKMOIRS. 


what he had ascertained from trustworthy sources. He was not, perhaps, a 
man of very deep learning, but ho was endowed with judgment and intelli- 
gence. He possessed, moreover, the qualities which are so often wanting 
in historians good faith, candour, and the desire to be impartial. His 
style, though by no means correct and almost uncouth, is not devoid of 
colour, though simple and artless, and some of his descriptions are traced 
with great power. Gregory of Tours, who had read Virgil, Sallust, and 
Pliny, doubtless sought to imitate them in an age when the study of literature 
was almost extinct. Nor is he to be blamed for introducing into his work 
the legends and miracles of which all his contemporaries were full. 

Fig. 357. The Seven Sainta of Brittany. Fac-eimile of a Wood Engraving from the "Chroniqucs 
de Brctagne," by Alain Bouchard (Paris, Galliot da Pre, 1514, in 4to). In the Library of 
M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

This work, priceless and unique of its kind, was more often to be found in 
the libraries of the monasteries than in the archives of the Merovingian kings, 
and it must have had a great notoriety upon the death of its author in 593, 
for the best historian of the seventh century, Fre'de'gaire, surnamed the 
Scholastic, continuing his history borrowed from Eusebius, Julius Africanus, 
and other Greek and Latin chroniclers, composed for the third book of this 
Chronicle an analytical abridgment of Gregory of Tours' book. Fredegaire, 
who was apparently a Burgundian, brought his story up to his death in 660. 


The fifth book of this work contains some very valuable information concern- 
ing the reigns of Clotaire II., Dagobert I., and Clovis the younger. The 
author states in his preface that he relates what he has either seen, or heard 
from persons in whom he can place reliance, or taken from standard works. 
It is the only historical record of what took place in France during that 
obscure period. 

It is difficult to give an explanation for the scarcity of contemporary 
Chronicles in the seventh and eighth centuries, when we remember that the 
bishops were the true guardians of history, and that monks in all the large 
monasteries made a point of collecting in chronological order the principal 
events of civil and religious history. It is true that these Chronicles were 
diffuse and loosely put together, and in these monastic Chronicles more space 
is devoted to the internal affairs of the community than to public occurrences, 
of which only vague rumours often reached them. Some of these Chronicles 
are nevertheless valuable (Fig. 357), on account of the scarcity of historical 
documents relating to early ages ; and amongst the mass of them which have 
been published we may cite as the most interesting those of Moissac, 
Fontenelle, St. Medard de Soissons, Fleury-sur-Loire, St. Gall, and St. 
Bertin. Nor do we know anything as to the names of the authors who wrote 
the daily chronicles, the diary as we should say, of the ordinary incidents 
which occurred in the households of the King and of the nobility, except that 
two of those who succeeded Fredegaire in his work say that their labours 
were undertaken, the one by order of Childebrand, uncle of Pepin d'Heristal, 
mayor of the palace, the other by order of Nibelung, son of Childebrand, who 
were anxious to possess annals of the First Race. There is reason for believing 
that many of the Chronicles were lost in the wars and devastations of these 
barbarous epochs, in the course of which most of the towns and monasteries 
were burnt and put to sack. This is to be regretted, for, as Lacurne de St. 
Palaye observes, " No age was so barbarous but what the French felt how 
useful might be the knowledge of their history, in order to stimulate men, 
by the example of their forefathers, to lead virtuous and honourable lives." It 
must not be supposed, however, that the ancient Asiatic and Northern peoples 
who had successively invaded Europe during the fifth and sixth centuries had 
no history. Their history, although not committed to writing, consisted of 
warlike and religious songs, which were transmitted from generation to 
generation, and which dated from a very remote period. These were the 



national songs which Charlemagne had collected from, the mouths of their 
descendants, who had become merged in the native populations of his empire. 
It was from the national songs, also, of the ancient Britons, of the Saxons, 
and of the Anglians that the Venerable Bede drew the materials for his 
Ecclesiastical History of England, composed by him in the Monastery of 
Jarrow, near Durham, where he died in 735. 

Charlemagne is credited with the honour of having instituted the monastic 
chronicles which were ordered to be preserved in all monastic foundations 
formed bv the crown. In each of these it was the monk who was most 

Fig. 358. Coronation of Charlemagne. Miniature from the " Chroniques de St. Denis." 
Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century. In the National Library, Paris. 

distinguished for his learning and uprightness who was intrusted with the 
duty of enregistering in chronological order the events of each reign ; and, at 
the death of the King, his notes served for the compilation of a Chronicle 
which was deposited in the archives of the monastery. The famous Abbey of 
St. Denis doubtless possessed, in preference to all other monasteries, the 
privilege of thus composing the posthumous history of the Kings (Fig. 358), 
with a degree of religious authority reminding one of the judgment of the 
dead in ancient Egypt, and of keeping the depot of these national archives, 
which were so famous throughout the Middle Ages. One of the oldest of 


English historians relates that the kings had in constant attendance at their 
court certain men of letters who were intrusted with the task of recording 
their memorable sayings and doings, in order to transmit them, after their 
death, to posterity. Egiiihard, the secretary (notarhis) of Charlemagne, held 
this confidential post, and he was also selected by that monarch to supervise 
the education of the heirs to his throne. It was, no doubt, in order to acquit 
himself of this task that the learned favourite of the Emperor retired into the 
Monastery of Selingstadt, where he arranged the materials for his Life of 
Charlemagne. This work, the best of all those which he has left, was 
apparently composed in imitation of Suetonius's Lives of the Twelve Caesars. 
In reading it one can easily see that the author was a member of the Pauline 
Academy, and that, in spite of his rugged and faulty style, he endeavoured to 
imitate the historical writers of ancient Rome. 

It is strange that the historical monuments of Charlemagne's epoch should 
be so few, for that sovereign was fond of literature, and encouraged those who 
cultivated it, and he must have followed with interest the progress of 
historical study. He may not, however, have cared to be the subject of 
works which he could not himself revise, and, as a matter of fact, most of the 
Chronicles treating of his reign are posterior to his death (814). There is no 
evidence that any of the distinguished scholars whom he had collected about 
him were ordered to write his own history. During his meals he had 
read to him the historical songs of the nations of the North and of Germany 
(cantilena historicce), which he had got together as materials for a history of 
the past, and he probably listened with not less interest to the songs of the 
bards who celebrated his warlike achievements in poems which were written 
in the vulgar tongue, but which were afterwards translated into Latin, and 
finally paraphrased into chansons de gcstc in the language of the twelfth 
century. But, excepting Eginhard, there were no scribes or secretaries in the 
palace intrusted with the duty of writing, under the Emperor's supervision, 
the official record of his public and private life. 

Charlemagne had been long in his grave when the monk of St. Gall, 
generally believed to be a man named Necker, published in two books, after 
the evidence of two contemporaries, Priest Werinbert and Chevalier Adalbert, 
a Chronicle (" De Gestis Caroli Magni ") which he dedicated to Charles the 
Fat, Emperor of Germany. This Chronicle, composed a hundred and seventy 
years after the Emperor's death, and the author of which glorified his memory, 



is very valuable, in spite of the exaggerations with which it teems. It is 

written in an artless and attractive style, and serves at least to counterbalance 






J I 

3 a 




the false Chronicle of Archbishop Turpin, which, though looked upon as 
reliable in the Middle Ages, is a tissue of falsehood. This latter Chronicle, 
attributed to the Archbishop of Rheims, who holds such a prominent place in 


romances of chivalry, relates the fabled expedition of Charlemagne and his 
paladins into Spain. It is in two distinct parts : the first five chapters were 
written in the middle of the eleventh, and the others in the beginning of the 
twelfth century. Here is the place to speak of the beautiful " Chanson de 
Roland," but there is no need to mention the narrative of the pseudo- 
Philomene concerning the doings of Charlemagne at Narbonne and at 
Carcassonne, and his fabled expedition to the Holy Land to restore the 
Patriarch of Jerusalem, whom the Arabs had driven out (Fig. 359). 

Eginhard and Paul Diacre are the only trustworthy historians of the reign 
of Charlemagne. Paul Warnefride, surnamed Diacre, because he had taken 
deacon's orders, was secretary to the Lombard king, Didier, and afterwards 
lived at the court of Charlemagne before he went into the Monastery of 
Monte Cassini, where he completed his History of the Lombards ('' De Gestis 
Langobardorum ") and his Abridgment of Roman History. It would be a 
mistake to suppose that barbarism, which appeared to have been arrested in 
its onward progress during the reign of Charlemagne, resumed its sway in 
the troubled reigns which followed. There was a rapid addition to the 
number of historians, who made their voices heard even in this (tenth) century 
of disorder and social transition. Every reign, every epoch, and every abbey 
had its chroniclers. In the ninth century, Ermold le Noir, Abbot of Aniane, 
wrote the Life of Louis the Debonnairc ; and Nithard, a soldier and grandson 
of Charlemagne, who was born in 790 and died in 858, wrote a history of the 
quarrels and strife which took place amongst the sons of that sovereign. 

The tenth century produced many good historians in nearly every country 
of Europe. In Italy, Luitprand, Bishop of Cremona, and twice ambassador 
at Constantinople, wrote the History of contemporary Germany (862 to 984) ; 
Witikind, monk of an abbey near Paderborn, wrote the Annals of the 
Imperial House under the Othos ; and Dudon, Canon of St. Quintin, under- 
took the History of the early Dukes of Normandy. There was an abundance of 
historians, in fact ; and while Abbon, Abbot of the old Benedictine monastery 
of Fleury-sur- Loire (died in 933) described in epic verse the siege of Paris by 
the Normans ("De Bello Parisiacsc Urbis") a siege of which he was an eye- 
witness Flodoard, Canon of Rheims, who died in 966, wrote some local 
Chronicles, in which are recorded many events of general interest. 

Most of the numerous historians of the eleventh century were prelates 
and monks, among whom may be mentioned Dithmar, Bishop of Merseburg 



in 1009, author of a Chronicle of Germany from 876 to 1018 ; Raoul Glaber, 
monk of Cluny, whose Chronicle, extending from 900 to 1046, is one of the most 
interesting produced during the Middle Ages ; and Aimoin, of Villefranche 
in Perigord (died in 1008), who had a well-deserved reputation in the history 
school of the Benedictines at Fleury-sur-Loire, and who spent part of his life 
in composing, after documents preserved in that celebrated ahhey, a History 
of the Merovingian kings, which he himself hrought down to the reign of 
Clovis, and which his successors, also Benedictine monks, continued to the 

Fig. 360. Coronation of the Great Khan, First King of Tartary. Miniature from the " Flear 
dcs Histoires de la Terre d'Orient," compiled by Brother Haycon or Hayton (Hethoum), Lord 
of Cort, Cousin-German of the King of Armenia. Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. In 
the Library of M. Amhroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

year 654. This is a well-arranged history, and one in which the Chronicles 
have heen fused with a view to logical sequence. Thegan, Archbishop of 
Treves, composed, much upon the same plan, a Life of Louis the Debonnaire ; 
and Helgaud, a monk at Fleury-sur-Loire, an abridged Life of King Robert. 
It was not till the close of the twelfth century that the vulgar tongue 
passed from popular poetry into history, and while it was in its first hesitating 



utterances, the historians, all of whom were clerks and monks, did not 
abandon the use of Latin, in which they recorded, without stopping to weigh 
their probability, the wildest stories and legends (Fig. 360). But the 
Crusades, the first of which dates from 1096, gave a fresh impulse to historical 
writing, and for a century and a half there was a long succession of historians 
of the Crusades, who described them in various languages, but principally 

Fig. 361. Alfonso X., the Wise, King of Castile (12521284), the supposed Author of the famous 
"Cronica de Espafia." Votive Statue in the Toledo Cathedral. After the " Iconografiu 
Espanola," hy Carderera. 

in Latin (Fig. 361). These historians relate, for the most part, facts of which 
they were themselves witnesses, and some of them import into their works the 
pious enthusiasm which animated those who took part in the Crusades. Each 
of these writers has his special characteristics, from Guibert de Xogent, who 


wrote the History of the first Crusade, down to William of Tyr. Amongst 
those who wrote in Latin we may mention Bernard the Treasurer, Albert of 
Aix, Jacques de Vitry, Robert the Monk, Foucher of Chartres, and Odon de 
Deuil. There are also two French historians of the fourth and last Crusade, 
both o'f whose names have become household words Villehardouin and the 
Sire de Joinville. 

But, before speaking of the French historians who brought about a 
complete change in the form of historical works, we must refer to the Greek 
and Latin writers, and also to a few historians in the vulgar tongue, who 

Fig. 362." How the Due d'Alan<;on took the said Town of Alan<;on." Miniature from the 
" Vigiles de Charles VII.," by Martial d'Auvergno. Manuscript dated 1484 (No. 5054). In 
the National Library, Paris. 

contributed not a little to the revival of historical science. Cedrenus and 
Zonoras, like most of the historians of the Middle Ages, commenced with the 
creation of the world, and brought their Chronicles down to their own day, 
the one to 1057, the other to 1118. Another Greek historian, Nicetas 
Choniates, commenced his Annals, of which there were twenty-one books, with 
the death of Alexis Comnenus, and terminated them with the death of the 
Emperor Baldwin. The Latin historians were so numerous that a mere list 
of their names would fill more than ten pages, and the only writers we need 


allude to are William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, and Roger of 
Hoveden,' in England ; Otho of Frisingen, Otfrid of Viterbo, and Conrad of 
Lichteiiau, in Germany ; Leon, Cardinal of Ostia, in Italy ; and Roderick 
Ximenes, in Spain (Fig. .361). Of the Chronicles in the vulgar tongue the 
most remarkable is that of Nestor, written in the Slav tongue in a monastery 
at Kieff about 1116. To the historians who succeeded these in the various 
countries of Europe we have not space to allude, and it is the less necessary to 
do so as their names are scarcely remembered. 

We must not, however, pass over the universal Chronicle of Matthew 
Paris, who was a monk and historian in the Benedictine Abbey of St. Albans, 
in the diocese of Lincoln, and who gave the title of "Historia Major 
Anglorum " to his history of the English, composed from the various 
Chronicles of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Matthew Paris is certainly 
one of the most remarkable historians of the Middle Ages, and his great work 
concerns not less France than England, especially with regard to the latter 
part, in which he described, after what he himself had witnessed, the events 
occurring between 1235 and his death in 1259. At this time the best 
historians were to be found in France, and their numbers continued to 
increase when they had created a school of history, which became of the 
more importance as Latin was gradually replaced by French in general 
conversation. As early as the middle of the twelfth century, fifty years 
before Villehardouin, in his Chronicle of the conquest of Constantinople, 
had proved that the vulgar idiom was well suited to works of history, Suger, 
Minister of State under Louis VI. and Louis VII., had, it is said, perceived 
that this idiom, which had long been in general use at court and among 
the upper classes, might be employed to advantage in the Royal Chronicles, 
which had been compiled for the last three centuries at the Abbey of 
St. Denis, where he died in 1152, and of which he was abbot. This fact 
is not absolutely certain, but Suger, who had written in Latin, though of a 
somewhat obscure style, the Life of Louis the Fat and part of the Life of 
Louis the Young, deserves to be given a prominent place in the list of 
French historians. 

The Latin Chronicles of the royal Abbey of St. Denis had long been 
famous, and there were deposited the most valuable manuscripts of French 

The writers of the romances and chansons do gcstc, with a view of obtaining 


greater credence for their works of imagination, did not scruple to declare 
that they had derived their entohvn (stories) from the uivhive.s of St. Denis. 
(See chapter on Romance*.) The author of the prose romance, "Beufve 
d'Antonne," says, " Materials for a narrative of the deeds of King Charles 
Miirtel are to be found in the Chronicles of Beufve d'Antonne and elsewhere, 
as also at St. Denis, where there is nothing but chronicle." The author of 
the romance in verse, " Doolin de Mayence," says : 

" Les saiges clers d'adonc, par leur scnifiance, 
En limit lea Croniques qui sout de graut vaillance, 
Et sont en 1'abbaie de Saint-Denys en France ; 
Puis, ont este estraitcs, par moult bele ordonnance, 
De latin en roman." . . . 

The first historical romances were originally given as history in rhyme, and 
the jugglers, who visited the chateaux and the plenary courts to recite and 
chant the adventures of the Knights of the Round Table and other lays 
already alluded to, taught their credulous and uneducated hearers as much as 
any of these nobles cared to learn concerning ancient history. The romances 
of " Rou " and " Brut," of " Godfrey de Bouillon," and a host of others of a 
kindred sort, composed in verse, were accepted as documents of unimpeach- 
able veracity. The result was that the true historians, in order to prevent 
the jugglers from having a monopoly of public favour, invented metrical 
histories, which did, in fact, effect that purpose. In this way Guillaume 
Guiart set to rhyme a Chronicle (from 1165 to 1306) which he entitled the 
" Branche cles Royaulx Lignages ; " Godfrey de Paris composed a Chronicle, 
of his time, under the reign of Philippe le Bel ; and Philippe Mouskes a 
Universal History consisting of thirty-two thousand lines, and relating the 
history of Flanders from the earliest ages to the end of the thirteenth century. 
These metrical Chronicles had a special class of readers among the lovers of 
poetry, and two centuries later the lawyer-poet Martial d'Auvergne still 
further perfected the metrical Chronicle by composing the " Vigiles du Roi 
Charles VII." (Figs. 362 and 363), one of the best histories of that prince; 
while his contemporary, Guillaume Cretin, precentor and canon at the Sainte- 
Chapelle of Vincennes, set to work at rhyming the Chronicles of France from 
Charlemagne to Francois I. 

Geoffrey, Sire de ViUehurdouin, Marshal of Champagne, who had taken 



an active part in the fourth Crusade, furnished a model for prose history in 
his Chronicle, or rather Memoir, upon the conquest of Constantinople by the 
crusaders in 1202. It is surprising to find in so ancient a work such a 
faithful and spirited account of the great events which this nobleman, who 
was a warrior and a statesman as well, had seen happen. His work is, so to 
speak, the starting-point for those private memoirs which have always been 
highly appreciated in France, and of which there has been a large supply 
ever since. The Chronicle of the Sire de Joinville, written more than seventy 
years after that of Villehardouin, also belongs to the category of private 
memoirs, though the worthy knight, who composed it in his old age, had 

Fig. 363. " How the Comte de Foix took strong Places in Guienne." Miniature from the " Vigiles 
de Charles VII., by Martial d'Auvergne. Manuscript dated 1484 (No. 5,054). In the 
National Library, Paris. 

intended to write the Life of St. Louis rather than a history of his own. He 
had not assuredly the keen penetration of Villehardouin, but unconsciously 
he has written one of the most exquisite works in the ancient literature of 
France. He was not a writer, yet he surpasses all the writers of his day by 
the charm, the grace, the sensibility, and the piquant artlessness of his 
narrative (Fig. 364). 

These excellent Memoirs, written by eye-witnesses of unquestionable 
authority, had not, however, at the time they appeared, the amount of 
success which their authors may well have expected. They remained in 
the archives of the Sire de Villehardouin in Eomania, and in those of the 



Chateau do Joinville, only a few copies being circulated at the French court, 
and amongst the noblemen who possessed a library. Yet the Sire de Join- 
ville had written these Memoirs at the request of Queen Jeanne, wife of 
Philippe le Eel, and when they were printed in the sixteenth century the 
original manuscript was no longer to be found. Other statesmen and soldiers 
also compiled their Memoirs, which, remaining buried in the archives of their 
castles, were destroyed, like so many other manuscripts, during the wars of the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The Latin Chronicles in the monasteries 
and the churches suffered less from the pillage and burning which became 
the fate of so many castles and fortified towns. Thus there remain a 
number of these Latin Chronicles, most of which have never been published, 

Fig. 364. The Envoys from the Soudan, having at their head a little old Man walking on Crutches, 
come to propose Terms of Ransom to the captive Crusaders. After a Miniature from the 
" Credo," by Joinville. Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century, formerly belonging to the 
National Library, Paris, hut at present in England. 

but the existence of which proves how the taste for history had spread since 
the twelfth century. The clerks, monks, priests, savants, and doctors would 
have considered themselves disgraced if they had written in any other 
language than Latin ; the nobles, the warriors, the politicians, the poets, and 
the middle classes only used the vulgar tongue to narrate events in which 
they had taken part, or which they had witnessed. It may, therefore, be 
considered as certain that from this period there was a very marked distinc- 
tion between general histories and personal memoirs, the latter being nearly 
always in French, and the former in Latin. 


At the same time an abridged French edition was being prepared, in the 
Abbey of St. Denis, of the Chronicles of France, and this edition was modified 
to keep pace with the changes in the language. This is how it came to 
pass that there were several different versions of these Chronicles. It would 
appear, according to some verses attributed to Mathieu de Vendome, Abbot 
of St. Denis in the thirteenth century, and placed at the head of the oldest 
manuscripts of these Chronicles, that they were translated into French by his 
order, about 1274, under the title of " Roman des Hois." These verses are 
explanatory of the profit to be derived from reading the Chronicles : 

..." L'on ne doit ce livre mcspriser no despire (decrier), 

Qui est fait des bons princes dou regne et de 1' empire. 

Qui sovent i voudroit estudier et lire, 

Bien puet scavoir qu'il doit eschiver et eslire (esquiver et choisir). 

Et dou bien et dou raal puet chascun son prou (profit) faire : 

Par 1'exemple des bons se doit-on au bien traire (tirer) ; 

Par les faits des mauvais qui sont tout le contraire, 

Se doit chascuu dou mal esloingner et retraire (retirer) ; 

Mains bons enseignements puet-on prendre en ce livre." . . . 

M. Paulin Paris, who has published a very excellent edition of this work, 
says of it with truth, " The Chronicles of St. Denis are probably the most 
glorious monument of history ever raised in any language or by any people, 
with the exception of the Bible." These Chronicles, which were not in reality 
published until the fifteenth century, but which as early as the fourteenth had 
been shown to kings and great personages, appear to have been regarded with 
almost religious veneration as the Golden Book of the Church and of the 
French monarchy. When foreign sovereigns came to the French court they 
asked to be allowed to see and to handle this venerable book. Upon a 
manuscript of these Chronicles belonging to the Due de Berry, brother of 
Charles V., may be read the following marginal note : " The which book the 
said Seigneur de Berry had taken from the Church of St. Denis to show to 
the Emperor Sigismond (in 1415), and also to copy." King Charles V. had 
previously had several copies taken, illustrated with miniatures, and he always 
had a copy open iipon his desk, by the side of the Bible. 

The monks of St. Denis continued to write in Latin an official account of 
each reign, according to the privileges of their royal abbey. These accounts 
took the form of very detailed annals, all the materials for which had been 



collected with scrupulous cure, :m<l which, were put together by the best 
writers in the community. It was in this fashion that (iuillaimie <lc N;miris 
wrote the Life of St. Louis and of Philip the Bold, us 15ig<rd did thai of 
Philip Augustus. The Lives of the latter's successors, down to Charles VI., 
were also w7-itten upon the same plan that is to say, in great detail by 

Fig. 365. Betrothal Interview between the Archduko Maximilian nnd Mary of Burgundy at 
Ghent, April 18th, 1477. Miniature from the " Chroniques de Flandre." Manuscript of the 
Fifteenth Century (No. 13,073). In the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

monks who remained anonymous, and whose works are said to have disap- 
peared when the Abbey of St. Denis was three times pillaged between 1410 
and 1429 by the Burgundians, the Armagnacs, and the English. There is 
some reason, however, for thinking that the monks themselves had concealed 

3 P 


or destroyed their original works, in which the history of the deadly wars 
between France and England, as well as of the civil wars and political 
factions of the fourteenth century, was narrated in too indignant and sorrow- 
ful terms. All that remains to us of these valuable Chronicles of the Kings 
of France from Louis VIII. to Charles V. is the general History of the 
reign of Charles VI., which gives us a very favourable idea of what the rest 
must have been. Nor do we even know who were the authors of this History, 
the last which was written in Latin. 

From the time of Charles VII. there was an official chronicler of France 
amongst the monks of St. Denis, and the first who held this post was Jean 
Chartier, younger brother of the royal poet, Alain Chartier. We owe to him 
an excellent Chronicle of the reign of Charles VII., written in French, but too 
much abridged ; and it is supposed that this was the last Chronicle compiled 
under the supervision of the Chapter of St. Denis ; for Jean Castel, appointed 
chronicler of France after Jean Chartier, was a monk of St. Martin des 
Champs, and became Abbot of St. Maur des Fosses. At his death in 1482, 
all his manuscripts were placed in a casket and transferred to St. Denis, but 
Louis XI. ordered that the said manuscripts, which doubtless related to the 
history of his reign, should be returned to his Seal Office. Jean d'Auton, 
Abbot of Angle, succeeded Jean Castel as Chronicler-Royal in the reign of 
Louis XII., while Jean Mace held that office under Francois I. The Valois 
were not content with having one chronicler, and henceforward there were 
three Histriographers of France in place of the chronicler of the King, 
and this post, the salary of which was raised from 1,200 to 2,400 livres 
(francs) in 1610, was held by Pierre Paschal, Bernard du Haillan, and Pierre 

The " Chroniques de France " or " de Saint Denis," written in French, 
stopped at the end of the reign of Charles VII. ; and this great historical 
work long retained its renown, notwithstanding the fables which envelop the 
cradle of the monarchy, and trace it back to Francus, son of Hector, who is 
said to have settled in Gaul after the fall of Troy. The religious legends, the 
lives of the saints, and the miracles which we find interspersed in the history 
of the first two races, represent the spirit of the age in which these annals 
were put together, and are not documents to be set on one side, though they 
have very erroneously been looked upon as discrediting the simple and honest 
compilation in which they are embodied. But it must nevertheless be allowed 


that, for the fourteenth and part of the fifteenth century, the " Chroniques de 
St. Denis," notwithstanding the moderation and precision with which they were 
compiled, are not equal to the Chronicles of Froissart, or even of Monstrelet. 

Jean Froissart (Fig. 368) is certainly one of the most attractive of 
historians; he is more the chronicler of the chevaliers than the historian 
of the fourteenth century. Bom at Valenciennes about 1337, the son of 
;i painter of armorial bearings, and himself no doubt an heraldic writer, he 
as a youth attached himself to the Church, and notwithstanding his position 
as clerk, soon took to travelling about Europe. He was also a poet and a 
musician, and this gained him admittance to the houses of the nobles, and 
afterwards to all the courts of Europe. He began by rewriting after his own 

mm' \' fempift ct ijmi KM- fmC ton 

tojfwnuwit tefyutf} dwfc/iirtflfe fa 

Fig. 366. Fragment of the " Genealogy o;' the Kings of France and of England." Manuscript of 
the Fifteenth Century. In the National Library, Paris. 

fancy the dull and involved Chronicle of Jean Lebel, Canon of Lige, but, 
being dissatisfied with his first version, he put it into another shape, and 
throughout his life perfected it and added to it what he had learned in the 
course of his travels. As he himself says, " Wherever I went, I questioned 
the aged chevaliers and esquires who had been engaged in the wars, and who 
could tell me all about them, and also the ancient heralds, in order to verify 
and control what I had heard. Thus did I compose the high and noble 
history." His history is a vivid, animated, and picturesque Chronicle, and 
the only fault to be found with it is that it contains a few repetitions and 
mistakes. Froissart is very happy in the variety of tone which he has given 
to this picture, in which are portrayed festivals of the court, gatherings of 


the chevaliers, and tournaments, as well as sieges, feats of arms, and battles. 
His narrative is interlarded with amusing anecdotes and witty dialogue, and 
his immense Chronicle, of which there are several different texts, extends 
without a break from 1326 to 1400. He was a very laborious and honest 
writer, remarkable for his impartiality ; and Michel de Montaigne speaks of 
him as "the worthy Froissart, who has always been frank and artless, who, if 
he makes a mistake, never hesitates to acknowledge and correct it as soon as 
it is pointed out to him, and who gives the various rumours which were 
current, and the different accounts ho has heard. It is the raw material for 
history, and every one can profit by it according to his understanding." 

Like Froissart, Enguerraiid de Monstrelet and Georges Chastelain, who 
were simultaneously engaged in continuing his Chronicles by adding thereto 
the- history of their time, both belonged to Flanders and to the court of the 
Duke of Burgundy, where historians were encouraged as well as poets and 
artists. Monstrelet (Fig. 369), born in 1390, may, perhaps, have known 
Froissart, who died subsequently to 1410, and he may even have received his 
advice when he began to write Chronicles. He was not a poet, but a juris- 
consult and archivist, and he held the posts of Provost of Cambray and 
Bailiff of Walincourt. He drew up a Chronicle which began where that of 
Froissart left off, and he interpolated into it a great number of original pieces 
to make up for what might be wanting in the way of talent in his own 
work. Georges Chastelain, while alive, had a much greater reputation than 
Monstrelet ; but his Chronicle, which has only recently been printed, and an 
important part of which has not as yet been found, was almost unknown, as 
he had written it exclusively for Philippe le Bon, whose secretary and official 
chronicler he became after having undertaken several diplomatic missions in 
France and England. This long Chronicle extended from 1419 to 1474, and 
is mainly remarkable for the clear and impartial judgment, the discernment, 
and the elevated style of the writer. 

The number of historical works written in French multiplied so rapidly 
in the course of the fourteenth century that the Royal Library of the Louvre, 
the inventory of which was taken by the keepers of the library at the death 
of Charles V., contained more than two hundred manuscript volumes in folio 
and in quarto, historical works, most of them magnificently bound in wooden 
boards covered with silk and with silver clasps. Amongst these works were 
several French translations of Livy, Julius Caesar, Valerius Maximus, Lucan, 


i 7/AVy.V/r Y. A'.V. //Y.S/VMYA'.Y, M /:.}/( HRS. 


Fig. 367. Entry of Charles VII. into Rouen in 1450. Miniature from Slanuscript of the 
Fifteenth Century, containing the Account of the Hundred Years' War, which terminated in 
1450 by the entry of Charles VII. into Eouen. Binding with the Anns of Anne of Brittany, 
Wifu of Louis XII. In the Collection of M. t,. Double, Paris. 


Suetonius, and other Latin writers, undertaken by order of King Charles V. 
There were six handsome copies of the " Chroniques de France ;" four or five 
of Vincent de Beauvais' "Miroir Historial ;" eight Lives of St. Louis, com- 
prising, doubtless, that written by Joinville ; various Histories and Chronicles 
of events beyond the seas (" Chroniques d'Outre Mer," as they were called) ; five 
or six Chronicles of the Popes and the Emperors ; a number of Lives of the 
Fathers and of the Saints ; a few foreign Chronicles translated into French 
(Fig. 366) ; narratives of battles and of war, &c. But in these inventories 

Fig. 368. Portrait of Froissart, after a Red Chalk Drawing pretcrved in the 
Town Library, Arras. 

there is not a single work of history written in Latin. Most of the 
manuscripts had been acquired at great expense by Charles V., who read 
them or had them read to him, and who appended his autograph to each one. 
They were seized or purchased in 1425 by the Duke of Bedford, who took 
them to England, where they were either destroyed or dispersed, and the 
library of the French kings in the Louvre had to be reformed. 

The fondness of Charles V. for the study of history did much to aid the 



Fig. 369. King Charles VII., upon quitting Eouen, sets out to besiege the Town of Harfleur. 
Miniature from the " Chroniques do Monstrelet." Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century 
(No. 2,679). In the National Library, Paris. 

progress of that branch of literature. That sovereign, a friend of literature 
and of men of letters, like hia two brothers, the Due de Berry and the 


Due d'Anjou, did not confine himself to the composition of sumptuous volumes 
of history, bien rsrrijif* ct /n'yforit'-s, with rich bindings, for he had in his 
household several translators amongst others, Jean de Vignay and Laurent 
du Premier- Fait to whom he gave orders what Latin or Italian works he 
wished to have translated into French ; but he had no chronicler holding an 
official title, and he allowed the monks of St. Denis to continue their task of 
writing in Latin the history of his reign a history which has not, unfor- 
tunately, been preserved. It is nevertheless from this reign that dates the 
personal history of each King of France, written in French by the chroniclers 
of the King's household. Christina de Pisan, who was at once a poetess, a 
philosopher, and an historian (Figs. 371 and 372), was the daughter of Thomas 
de Pisan, astrologer to Charles V., and she was therefore enabled, owing to 
her personal position at court, to collect all the particulars for the " Livre des 
Faits et Bonnes Moeurs du Roi Charles V.," which she did not terminate 
until 1404. At this period the poet Eustache Deschamps was royal chronicler, 
and he was engaged in writing a History of the reign of Charles VI., which, 
interrupted probably by the wars of that time, never appeared, though some 
traces of it may, perhaps, be found in the curious History published under the 
name of " Jouvenel des Ursins." The author of this latter work was not an 
official chronicler, for he held the dignity of Archbishop of Rheims, and he 
was concerned in many of the stirring events which he describes. After him 
we have, as mentioned above, a true French chronicler in Jean Chartier, 
though his description of the reign of Charles VII. and of the doings of Joan 
d'Arc has not the fire which it might have possessed. 

During each reign the official chronicler of France prepared the materials 
for a history of the sovereign, but this history was not necessarily written, 
much less published. Thus Louis XI. appears to have systematically hindered 
his chronicler from completing the events of his reign, and that which 
appeared towards the end of the fifteenth century with the inappropriate 
title of " Chronique Scandaleuse du Roy Louis XL," and under the name of 
Jean de Troyes, was merely the outline of the work compiled by Pierre 
Desrey, of Troyes, chronicler of France under Louis XL, and the only reason 
for entitling this Chronicle scandalous was that it was published without the 
royal assent. After Pierre Desrey, Andre de la Vigne wrote, partly in prose 
and partly in verse, the "Vergier d'Honneur," with reference to the bold 
expedition of Charles VIII. for the conquest of Naples. The wars of the 



Fig. 370. Fabled Origin of the Burgundy Cross. fiticnne, a legendary King of Burgundy, 
in;ikes a Pilgrimage to St. Victor of Marseilles, to whom he has carried the Cross of 
St. Andrew, out of gratitude to St. Mary Magdalene, who had raised him and his Mother 

from the Dead. This Cross afterwards figured in the Shield of the House of Burgundy 

Miniature from the "Chroniques de Bourgogne." Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. In 
the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

3 ci 


French in Italy during the reign of Louis XII. were recorded by Jean 
d'Auton, 'who, in his character of chronicler of France, compiled a very 
complete Chronicle, the style of which, however, was pedantic and involved. 
This deplorable style was brought into fashion by the historians of the court 
of Burgundy, and especially by Canon Jean Molinet, the historiographer of 
Margaret of Austria, who governed the Low Countries (Fig. 305). Fran9ois I., 
Henri II., and their successors, down to Henri IV., also had their chroniclers 
and historiographers, who received their salaries without ever publishing the 
result of their labours. One of these historiographers, Pierre Paschal, had 
made a great stir about a History of France, which, year after year, ho was 
upon the point of publishing, yet when be died in 1565 there were not more 
than twenty pages of it found among his papers. 

History, as it extended its domain, gradually increased in variety of tone 
and style. Upon the one hand the lives of warriors and statesmen were 
related by the heralds, the esquires, and the secretaries, who lived in their 
houses and had witnessed the events which they described ; while upon the 
other hand these warriors, statesmen, and courtiers themselves wrote or 
dictated to their secretaries and servants the memoirs of their time. These 
private Chronicles and Memoirs, so- varied and so interesting, some of which 
are anonymous, show that their various authors were animated by the desire 
of outdoing one another by a description of the stirring events in which they 
had participated. The ancient Chronicle of the Constable Bertrand Duguesclin 
was doubtless compiled by one of his companions in arms, and the " Chronique 
de la Pucelle " must have been written by a clerk attached to the religious 
service of Joan of Arc, and who had followed her from her entiy into Orleans, 
when besieged by the English, to the coronation of Charles VII. at Rheims. 
Guillaume Gruel, who wrote the History of Arthur III., Comte de Richemont, 
Duke of Brittany, was chronicler to the latter prince ; Jean d'Oronville, who 
wrote the life and heroic deeds of Louis II., Due de Bourbon, great-grandson 
of St. Louis, was secretary to a prince of the house of Bourbon under 
Charles VII. ; but we do not know who was the author of the History of 
Jean le Maingre, surnamed Boucicaut, Marshal of France ; and it has only 
recently been discovered that Jean Lefevre de St. Remy, King-at-arms of the 
Golden Fleece, composed the Chronicle of the good Chevalier Jean de Lalaing, 
which had always been attributed to Georges Chastelain. We have never 
known the name of the " Loyal Servitor " who was secretary to the Chevalier 



Hayard; but the " II isfory of the Deeds, Achievements, Triumj)lis, and 1'rowess 
of tlic good Chevalier, who is without Fear and without Ueproach, the gentle 
Seigneur do Mayard," is rightly regarded as the historical masterpiece, of the 
time nl' Francois I. 

The best of the Memoirs of which the Sire de Joinvillc had, so to speak, 
furnished the model are those rewritten at the end of the fifteenth century 
by Philippe do Commincs (Fig. :J7'3), and published in 1524 und 10*28 under 

Fig. 371. Miniuture from the " Livre de Fails d'Armes et de Chevulerie," by Christina dc 1'isan. 
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. In the Library of SI. Ambioise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

the title of "Chroniques." M. Ludovic Lulunnc has pointed out with great 
truth that lie was the first Frenchman to write the history of his time with 
the profundity, the discernment, and impartiality of a man who had passed 
his lil'e in public afYairs. The- style of these Memoirs, though rather tortuous 
and wordy, is not lacking in vigour and intensity. In addition to the 
.Memoirs of Louis XL's favourite, wo can do no more than mention the 
Chronicle-memoirs of Pierre Feniii, Mathieu de Coucy, Olivier de la Murche 


(Fig. -574), and Jacques du Clercq, all of whom were attached to the court of 
Burgundy in the fifteenth century. The sixteenth century possessed a brilliant 
series of Memoirs, from those of the Sire de Fleurange, of Martin du Eellay, 
and of the Seigneur de Vieilleville (compiled by his secretary, Carloix), in the 
reigns of Francois I. and Henri II., to the Memoirs of Gaspard de Saulx- 
Tavannes, Montluc, Castelnau, and Marguerite de Valois during the rest of 
the century. The Memoirs of Brantdme were the last of the Valois dynasty, 

Fig. 372. Miniature from the " Livre de Fails d'Armes et de Chevalcrie," by Christina de Pisan. 
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. In the Library of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

and are in striking contrast to the "Economies Royales," or the political 
Memoirs in which the Due de Sully described the reign of Henri IV. 

But the sixteenth century cared most for long historical works and 
books of general history. The "Chroniques de St. Denis" had fallen 
into undeserved discredit since the reign of Louis XII., which king had 
brought back with him from Verona an Italian historian who wrote in Latin 

CHRONICLES, ///.S/WvY/.'.S. 


Paolo Emilio, or Paul us ^Emilias, as he was then called and commissioned 
him to rewrite in rhetorical style the History of France, which Robert Gaguin 
had obscured with the jargon of scholasticism. His work, "De Rebus Gestis 
Francorum," was highly appreciated by the Humanists, but it had not the 
success of Gaguin's Chronicle, which was reprinted ten times, and translated 
into French by the indefatigable Pierre Desrey. The booksellers had ordered 
from the above, and from several other writers, different historical compilations 

Fig. 373. Portrait of Philippe de Commines, after a Red Chalk Drawing preserved io the 

Town Library, AIM-. 

entitled the " Mer des Histoires," the " Rosier Historial," &c. The chroniclers 
and historiographers of France, who turned out so many bulky volumes that 
one might imagine they had written with both hands, nearly all composed 
their universal History of France ; and one of the first efforts in this direction 
was that made by Nicole Gilles, notary and secretary of the King, who had 
no little success, for the " Annals and Chronicles " of this old historian, who 
died in 1503, went through numerous editions until the end of the sixteenth 



century, thanks to the additions and supplements written by Belleforest and 
Gabriel Chapuis. But this work was soon eclipsed by the more complete 
Histories published almost simultaneously by the King's historiographers, 
Bernard Girard, Sieur du Haillan, Francois de Belleforest, and Jean do 

Fig. 374. Death presiding over Battles. Miniature from the "Chevalier delibere," by Olivier 
de la Murche. Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (No. 173). In the Arsenal Library, Paris. 

Serres. The folios succeeded each other with amazing rapidity, yet they did 
no more than keep pace with the curiosity of the public, who read every line 
of these ponderous volumes. There was a sort of historical fever, which was 
only aggravated by interminable incidents of the civil wars recorded by the 

, ///.S/YMYA-.V, MI-:MUIRS. 487 

Protestant writers, La Popeliniere, Jean de Lavul, Agrippa d'Aubign^. A 
groat historian, the Pols-bins and Tacitus of France, President Jacques- 
Auguste de Thou, wrote an excellent Political History of Franco, but it 
has the fault of Ix-ing too prolix, and of being written in enigmatic Latin 
instead of in the language of his contemporaries, Michel de Montaigne and 
Henri IV. 

Fig. 375. The Arms of Henry V. of England, joined to those of Catherine de Valoip, his Wife, 
Daughter of Charles VF. From a Sliseal which belonged to Charles VI. In the Library of 
M. Ambroise Firmin-lJidot, Paris. 


Disappearance of the Ancient Theatre. First Essays of the Christian Theatre. Pious Repre- 
sentations in the Churches. The Latin Drama of Hiosvitha. The Mystery of Adam. The 
Great Mysteries. Progress of tlie Theatre in Europe. Brothers of the Passion in Paris. 
Public Representations. The Mysteiy of St. Louie. Comedy since the Thirteenth Century. 
Jean de la Halle. The Farce de Pathelin. The Bazoche. The Fnfants sans Souci. The 
Theatre in Spain and in Italy. Creation of the Literary Theatre, in the Sixteenth Century, 
in Fiance. 

CTING on the example of M. Charles 
Louuudre, who has written a very useful 
treatise upon the origin of the dramatic art, 
we will divide the history of the Theatre 
into four distinct periods. As he says, 
during the first period that is to say, from 
the dawn of Christianity to the seventh cen- 
tury the Greco-Roman traditions reigned 
supreme. During the second period, from 
the seventh to the twelfth century, the pro- 
fane element gave way to Christian inspiration ; the theatre, in the 
modern acceptation of the term, disappeared altogether, and, absorbed 
in the ceremonial of public worship, preserved nothing but the Latin 
language as a souvenir of Rome. In the twelfth, and still more during 
the next two centuries, the sanctuary ceased to have a monopoly of 
scenic representations ; the priests and the monks were gradually 
driven from the stage by professional actors, and though Christian 
thought was still the dominating feature in the great dramatic composi- 
tions of the time, some of them bore traces of the spirit of raillery which 
afterwards prevailed. And in the sixteenth century dramatic art under- 
went its definite transformation, and, by an alliance of Greco-Roman tradi- 
tions and Christian inspiration, it became at once chivalrous, religious, 
satirical, national, and classic. 

///A' DRAMA. 


Beyond the comedies of Pluutus and of Terence (Figs. 376 to 380) and i h- 
tragedies of Seneca, which doubtless continued to be played in some of the 
towns of the old Roman world where correct Latin was still spoken, we know of 
nothing except a few feeble attempts at Christian drama, such as C/irixt 
Suffering, attributed to Gregory Nazianzen ; Susan, now extinct, which is 
said to have been written by John Damascenus; a Di/i/n///t/' /nfmni Ailnm 
iinil En> in tin' i'nrtli/1/ /'/////<//," &c. ; and it is quite possible that these 
dramas were not written for the stage. Christianity had condemned all kiiuU 


Fig. 376. The Slave and the Lawyer. Representative Characters of the Ancient Theatre, from 
the Comedies of Terence. Manuscript of the Tenth Century. In the National Library, Time. 

of theatrical representations : tragedies, comedies, pantomimes, and circensian 
games. The amphitheatres, which, with the pagan temples, constituted the 
principal ornaments of the Roman cities, were, like the temples, abandoned 
as the new faith spread. It is true that Chilpe"ric, King of the Franks, 
constructed in 577 a circus at Paris, and another at Soissons ; but the dramatic 
art being at that time unknown in Gaul, these buildings were merely arenas, 
in which appeared buffoons, dancers, and performing dogs and horses, and in 
which were still given the combats of wild animals. The theatre disappeared 
in the shipwreck of ancient society. 

3 R 



From the seventh to the tenth century are to be found in contemporary 
document's two kinds of scenic representations the one nomad and popular, 
the other religious and permanent ; the former connected more or less with 
the traditions of paganism, the second betokening vague aspirations of a new 
and essentially Christian art. The nomad and popular representations were 
given by histrions, who exchanged this name of reproach first for that of 
chantcurs, and afterwards for that of jugglers (jongleur*), which was given 
them by the public, and which they retained throughout the Middle Ages. 

Fig. 377. The Old Man and the Maid-servant. Representative Characters of the Ancient 
Theatre, from the Comedies of Terence. Manuscript of the Tenth Century. In the National 
Library, Paris. 

Mounted upon common trestles, and surrounded by buffoons, mimics, and 
musicians, who accompanied their utterances with gestures, grimaces, and 
wind or stringed instruments, they declaimed or sang it can scarcely be said 
acted serious or comic plays. About the ninth century, however, as far as 
can be ascertained from certain passages in historians of that time, the 
performances of the jugglers, who mostly took their repertory from the 
legends of the saints, assumed a certain dramatic character. Plain narrative 



was succeeded by diuloguc, and several singers at once r< JIK -nited, or rather 
intoned, religious scenes, which were called ui'/mi/n' c/mli/rntB, or, as we may 
translate it, songs intended to be sung in the streets. These may have been 
theatrical pieces, but it is quite certain that the Church forbade her clergy to 
taki- part in, or even to witness them. 

Nevertheless there were given in the churches at this period, upon the 
principal festivals, regular dramatic representations, which appear to have 

Fig. 378. The Parasite and the Soldier. Representative Characters of the Ancient Theatre, from 
the Comedies of Terence. Manuscript of the Tenth Century. In the National Library, Paris. 

formed an integral part of the service, and the clergy in these representations, 
which they had the sole charge of, acted the principal episodes in the life of 
Christ. For instance, at Christmas, the manger, the shepherds, the magi, and 
even the star which led them to Bethlehem were represented at the mass, and 
it is in the conversational shape of certain parts of the service celebrated at 
the festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost that are to be found the 
origin of the Mystery-plays and Miracle-plays of the Middle Ages. 


Yet, while taking into account these representations, which long held a 
place in Catholic liturgy, it may be affirmed that from the sixth to the tenth 
century there was not throughout Europe either a theatre or any theatrical 
works in the strict acceptation of the word. 

To Hrosvitha, a nun in the Convent of Gandersheim, and a native of Saxony, 
belongs the honour of having composed the first dramatic works worthy of 
the name ; and though these works are crude and barbarous, they are none 
the less very interesting from an artistic point of view. It is said that she 
was the authoress of six Latin dramas imitated from Terence, which were 
represented before the nuns of her abbey, in their chapter-house, about the 
end of the tenth century. The dominant idea in her dramas is the glorifica- 
tion of chastity, and it must be said that this primitive drama, rude and 
imperfect as it may appear, contains passages which would be admired in the 
greatest masters of the ancient and of the modern stage. 

From the eleventh to the thirteenth century it was the custom to celebrate 
in the porches of churches, and even within the sacred building, dramatized 
services, in which the principal parts were played by the clergy, from the 
canon to the deacon, and which were used as an introduction to, and adorn- 
ment of, the holy liturgy. One of these services, entitled Mystery of the 
Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, has come down to us, with the par- 
ticulars of the way in which it was got up, and the music pricked. Three 
deacons, arrayed in dalmaticas, and their heads covered with veils "like 
women," says the text, and representing the three Marys, advanced, with 
vases in their hands, to the middle of the choir: with their heads bent 
downwards, they proceeded to the desk, singing the anthem, " Who shall roll 
away for us the stone from the tomb of the sepulchre ? " A chorister-boy, 
" after the manner of an angel," arrayed in a white alb and holding a palm- 
branch, addressed them this question : " Whom seek ye here ? " to which 
the three deacons replied, " We seek Jesus of Nazareth." Thus the mystery 
of the resurrection seemed to be accomplished in the presence of the people, 
before whose eyes were unfolded the majestic scenes of the gospel. 

Henceforward a new kind of scenic dialogue was formed under the name 
of Mystery, and a new era opened for theatrical art. Written solely in Latin 
at first, the mystery was gradually put into the vulgar tongue, so as to be 
understood by the general public, and this led to the creation of certain pieces 
called farcitures, half Latin, half French, upon solemn subjects. It was not 



until the thirteenth century that Latin disappeared altogether ; but the three 
kinds of play adopted from that time, the Latin mystery, the mystery fur,-,- 
(or a combination of Latin and French), and the mystery altogether in 
French, were represented simultaneously until the migration of the drama 
from the ceremonies and processions of the Church to the public streets and 
squares of the city until, in fact, it exchanged its religious for a secular 

It is no easy matter, amidst the chaos of theatrical productions in the 

B A C c \\\f 

Fig. 379. Bacchis and the Fisherman. Representative Characters of the Ancient Theatre, from 
the Comedies of Terence. Manuscript of the Tenth Century. In the National Library, Paris. 

Middle Ages, to distinguish precisely between them, and to lay down the 
special principles of each dramatic school. It may, however, be said that the 
mystery is the representation of a fact taken from the Bible, as the Miracle is 
the representation of a fact borrowed from the legends of the saints, male or 
female, especially from the story of their martyrdom. It is worthy of remark, 
at the same time, that the title of Mystery, originally very limited in its 
application, was afterwards applied to compositions very different from those 
to which this name was at first given. It was even applied to dramatic works, 

494 ' THE DRAMA. 

the subjects of which were taken from the traditions of chivalry, such as the 
Mi/xtere cle Berte, the Mystere d'Amis ct d'Amile, and the Mystere cle Griselidis, 
played in 1395 ; or to the pagan and mythological traditions, such as the 
Mystere cle la Destruction cle Troie, played in 1459; or even to the events of 
contemporary history, such as the Mystere du Siege d' Orleans, played either 
during the lifetime of Joan of Arc, or soon after her death. 

With a few rare exceptions, the mysteries and the miracles were composed 
by priests or by monks, which is to be attributed to the fact that the mem- 
bers of the clergy, generally better educated than the laity, considered the 
representation of sacred pieces as the most practical means of educating 
their, flocks, who welcomed instruction in this attractive form all the more 
heartily because, during these semi-barbarous periods, their towns were 
continually laid waste or menaced by the triple scourge of battle, plague, 
and famine. 

There is a rather long list of the authors of miracle-plays and mystery- 
plays from the twelfth to the fifteenth century. The first of these authors is 
Hilaire, disciple of Abelard, who composed, under the title of Ludi (plays), 
pieces in dialogue, imitated from the Old and the New Testaments. The last 
name in the list, at the close of the fifteenth century, is that of the " very 
eloquent and very scientific " and still more prolific doctor, Jehan Michel, 
Bishop of Angers, author of the celebrated Mystery of the Passion, which 
another Jehan Michel, his brother or nephew, revised and had represented in 
his native city. The oldest vestige of dramatic art in France is, beyond 
doubt, a Mystery of Adam and Ere, written in French about the middle of the 
twelfth century, which we discovered in 1845 in a manuscript at the Tours 
Library, and which was published for the first time by Victor Luzarche in 
1854. This mystery or drama is the most characteristic type of the dramatic 
representations which were held at the church porticos. 

The piece entitled Representacio Ade (Representation of Adam) is divided 
into three acts or parts, which are accompanied by a chorus, and terminate in 
an epilogue. The first act comprises man's fall ; the second the murder of 
Abel ; and the third the appearance of the prophets to announce the advent of 
the Saviour. At intervals the chorus sings Latin verses, and the epilogue 
consists of a sermon upon the necessity of penitence. The manuscript 
containing this Bible mystery is all the more curious because it gives the 
complete stage arrangements for playing it. The whole is preceded by a 

/'//A' DRAMA. 


short summary not only of the theatrical decorations and the dress of all the 
actors, but also as to their attitude and gestures, and the way in which they 
are to play their parts. We will give a brief analysis of the first act, in 

Fig. 380. The Cook. Miniature from the Terence of Charles VI. Manuscript of the early part of 
the Fifteenth Century (No. 25, B.L). In the Arsenal Library, Paris. 

which appear four persons : Figura (or God in human form), Adam, Eve, and 
the Devil. The first scene opens in the Garden of Eden, which is placed upon 

49 6 THE DRAMA. 

an eminence, and is bright with sweet-smelling flowers and fruit-trees. God 
is represented as wearing a dalmatica, Adam a red tunic, and Eve a peplum 
of white silk. It is to be remarked that whenever God quits the stage, he 
goes back into the church a fact which indicates to us precisely the place 
where the representation was held. The opening part of the scene is as follows, 
after the original text in old French : 





Fourme te ai 
De limo terre. 

Ben le sai. 


Je t'ai founne a mun semblant, 
A m' image: ne t'ai fait de terre. 
Xe m' devez jamais mover guerre 


Nen ferai-je, mais te crerrai : 
Mun creatur obeirai. 


Je t'ai dune bon coinpainun : 
Ce est ta femme, Eva a noun ; 
Ce est ta femme, e tun pareil. 
Tu H deis estre bieu fiel (fidele). 
Tu aime lui, e ele aime toi : 
Si serez ben ambdui (tons deux) de moi. 
El' seit a tun comandement, 
E vus ambedeus a mun talent. 
De ta coste je 1'ai fourmee : 
N'est pas estrange, de toi est nee. 
Je la plasmai (creai) de ton cors. 
De toi eissit, non pas de fors. 
Tu la gouverne par raison ; 
N'ait entre vus ja tendon (quenlle) ; 
Mais grant amor, grand conservage : 
Tel soit la lei de mariage." 

God, after having thus addressed Adam and Eve, withdraws, leaving them 


to walk about the garden, playing innocently (lumcxti- >/, In-lmiti .>). Tlie 
demons approach them, and show Eve the fruits of the tree of good and evil. 
The Devil then appears, and counsels Adam to pluck the forbidden fruit. 
Adam angrily repels him, and the Devil then addresses himself to Eve, who 
makes but a feeble resistance to his tempting. Adam compels the Devil to go 
away, but the latter is seen assuming the form of a serpent (a mechanical 
serpent, artificiose compositus as it was called, appeared upon the stage), which 
crawls close to the tree of good and evil. Eve yields to the crafty advice of 
Satan, plucks the apple, and offers it to Adam, who, after refusing to take it, 
eventually eats part of it. He at once sees his fault, and hides in a bush, in 
order to take off his festal garments (solemnes vestes) and assume a costume of 
leaves. Eve and himself, concealed in a corner of Paradise, are afraid to 
appear before God, who is seen walking arrayed in pontifical robes. He 
calls to Adam in Latin, "Adam, ubi es?" At length the two culprits 
appear, ashamed and repentant, mutually accusing one another. God drives 
them from Paradise, informing them of all the sorrows which await them om 
earth. An angel, robed in white and waving a flaming sword, stations 
himself at the gate of Paradise. In the last scene Adam and Eve are 
laboriously tilling the ground and sowing corn, but during their sleep the 
Devil plants thorns and thistles among the wheat. When they awake and 
behold the Devil's work, they prostrate themselves in the dust, beat their 
breasts, and abandon themselves to despair. The Devil calls together the 
demons, who load Adam and Eve with chains, and drive them to the brink of 
hell, into which the two sinners are precipitated, amidst the laughter and 
yells which issue from the flaming abyss. This is the analysis of the first act, 
which forms a complete play of itself, and which embodies the three elements 
of tragedy, pantomime, and opera. 

The dramatic movement which took place in France in the twelfth century 
was not peculiar to that country. In the year 1110 the Norman poet 
Geoffrey had played at Dunstable, in Bedfordshire, the Miracle de St. 
Catherine, which was very much admired by the Anglo-Normans. Mention 
is made in a Chronicle of Frioul of the representation of a Latin mystery in 
1218. In Germany the Passion Play was given in the Cathedral of Vienna, 
and the Sepulchre of Our Lord in the heart of Bohemia about 1437. Long 
before this, Armorican Brittany had provided the faithful with a mystery 
written in the national dialect upon the Life of St. Nonne, which certain 

3 s 


critics hold to be of earlier date than the twelfth century, and which is still 
represented in the country districts of Brittany. 

These dramas French, German, English, Italian, and Breton all com- 
posed in the same spirit of fervent piety, were produced at almost the same 
time in all countries, and in almost the same shape. They were conceived, 
written, and played by priests or by monks. But the laymen in course of 
time competed with the clergy for theatrical representations, and it may be 
said that the whole of Christendom then took part in the performance of 
the mysteries and the miracles. 

In most European countries, notably in France, from the twelfth century, 
each art or trade was organized as a religious association (confr&rie) as soon as 
it had constituted itself into an industrial or trade corporation. Having their 
origin in local feeling and political emancipation, these associations were in 
many instances dramatic companies, enjoying the favour of the magistracy 
and clergy of the town. Moreover, all classes of the population were invited 
to take parts in the public representations of these great sacred dramas, in 
which as many as six hundred persons sometimes figured. The Church, so 
severe at first with regard to the secular theatre, relaxed her regulations in 
this respect, and encouraged those who took part, as actors or spectators, in 
these edifying spectacles, which revived the principal facts of Bible history, 
and popularised the triumph of the Christian religion. The municipalities, 
for their part, encouraged and remunerated the authors and the actors, and 
had numerous copies taken of these pious compositions, the official text of 
which was deposited in the archives of the town. 

As long as the mysteries and miracles preserved their exclusively liturgical 
character, the persons who figured in them as actors were not considered to 
exercise any special profession, but rather a sort of religious function. Thus, 
from the fourteenth century, the champions of the dogma of the Immaculate 
Conception, which had not as yet been proclaimed by the Church, formed 
dramatic associations for the purpose of propagating this dogma by playing 
the Mysteries of Our Lady, composed in honour of the Virgin Mary, who 
conceived without sin (Fig. 381). Amongst these confreres, all of whom 
wore the ecclesiastical dress as a symbol of their clerical origin, there were 
some who entitled themselves "Brothers of the Passion," and they soon 
established a permanent theatre in the village of St. Maur-des-Fosses, near 
Paris, in 1398. This theatre was almost at once closed by order of the 



Provost of Paris, doubtless at the request of the clergy of the capital, who 
complained that their parishioners neglected the Church services to go and 
see the play of the Brothers of the Passion. But four years afterwards 
King Charles VI. accorded them letters patent, dated December 4th, 1402, 
and they were no longer interfered with in the exercise of their vocation. 
After having obtained, by these letters patent, permission to continue their 
plays and to show themselves, even in theatrical costume, in the streets of 
Paris, they obtained from the monks of the Trinity Hospital (in the Rue St. 
Denis, opposite the Rue Grenetat), a long low room, in which they opened 
the first permanent and covered theatre which was founded in Paris, and here 

Fig. 381. The Hermit forces Robert le Diable to declare his Identity. Miniature from the 
" Miracle de Nostre-Dame et de Robert le Dyable." Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century. 
In the National Library, Paris. 

they gave representations every Sunday and fete day from twelve to five in 
the afternoon. 

Long after this the mysteries and miracles continued to be represented 
in the provinces, the places selected being consecrated ground and graveyards. 
The Synodic Statutes of Orleans even show that the representation of scenic 
play stook place in the cathedral, probably in front of the portico, as late as 
1525 and 1587. The same was the case all over Europe up to the middle of 
the sixteenth century. Under the pontificate of Innocent VIII., about 1490, 
Lorenzo de' Medici, upon the occasion of the marriage of his daughter to a 


nephew of the Pope, himself composed a Mystery of St. John and St. Paul, 
which he had represented by several members of his family inside one of the 
Florence churches. 

The people of the Middle Ages, from the very fact that their existence 
was more monotonous than that of the people of the present day, were all the 
more ready to seize an opportunity for amusement, and the solemn representa- 
tions of the mysteries were amongst their most cherished enjoyments. The 
entrance of the King or Queen into a town, the birth of a prince or princess, the 
court festivals, as well as the ecclesiastical solemnities and the feasts of the 
Church, were an excuse for these popular spectacles. The representations, 
prepared a long time beforehand, were announced by the public crier, like 
the royal and municipal decrees, at the most frequented places of the town. The 
spectators, who had not to pay anything for witnessing the play, did not seat 
themselves promiscuously, but each person according to his rank and station. 
The nobles or dignitaries occupied platforms, upon which, as the representations 
lasted a long time, they sometimes had their meals served, like the old Romans 
upon the balconies of the amphitheatre or circus. The plain bourgeois and 
the lower classes occupied places, either seated or standing, upon the bare 
earth or the pavement, as the case might be, the men being to the right, and 
the women to the left, the same as in church. The local clergy, in order to 
let their congregations have an opportunity of witnessing the whole spectacle, 
advanced or put back the hour of divine service. In fact, the fondness of the 
public for these spectacles was so great that the houses were left almost 
deserted, and armed watchmen paced the silent streets to protect the property 
of the inhabitants while the representation was taking place. 

There were not as yet any permanent theatres in the towns, but the 
dimensions of the temporary theatres erected were regulated according to the 
number of actors who had to appear upon the stage. As a matter of course, 
when, as in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the only pieces represented 
were episodical dramas, such as the Miracles de Noire-Dame, these theatres 
were not nearly so large or so complicated as when there came to be repre- 
sented the great poems or mystery-plays of the Old Testament, the Passion, 
and the Acts of the Apostles. The theatre and the platforms used for these 
public representations, which often lasted several days, must have been of 
immense dimensions, and have entailed considerable expense. 

M. Charles Magnin, in his work upon theatrical archeology, says, " The 


de Notre- Da me did not require more than two stories or stalls, the 
one raised above the other. The upper story represented Paradise, in which 
were seated upon a throne God and the Virgin, surrounded by their celestial! 
court. The lower story was reserved for the human scenes, and divided by 
partitions and tapestry into as many chambers or compartments as there were 
different places to represent. The upper story (Heaven) communicated with 
the lower (Earth) by means of two spiral staircases placed at each side of the 
stage. It was by these that descended and reascended in procession God, 
the Virgin, and the Angels, when they manifested themselves to the inha- 
bitants of Earth. The floor of the theatre, the area, or, as it would now 
be called, the pit, was formed of the turf of a meadow or graveyard;" 
unless, that is to say, the town in which the representation was to take place 
possessed the remains of some ancient theatre, in which case it was utilised 
for the occasion. This indirect use of the pagan theatres for the religious 
plays of the Middle Ages took place all over Europe before the Brothers 
of the Passion and other similar associations had acquired permanent and 
covered buildings. In about the middle of the fifteenth century the per- 
manent and provisional theatres increased in size in proportion as the frame- 
work of the mystery-plays represented in them became enlarged. To the two 
primitive stories were superadded a number of compartments intended to 
represent in perspective, upon different planes and at different elevations, 
Heaven, Hell, the World, Jerusalem, Egypt, Rome, the house of St. Joseph, 
&c. The actors, while they were upon the stage, moved into one of these 
compartments, designated by placards or inscriptions, every time that the 
place in which the scene was laid changed, and, after having "done their 
play," they leisurely resumed their place upon the raised seats of the theatre. 
As far as can be judged by the few documents relating to this subject, 
there were two kinds of scenery ; the one kind painted as in the present 
day, the other constructed of wood, or even stone, which had a regularly 
embossed surface. Moreover, as the spectators would often have experienced 
much difficulty in following the plot amidst the host of persons who appeared 
upon the stage, and the frequent change from one place to another, the author 
always offered in an explanatory prologue some general notices which enabled 
them to understand what was going on. He would say, for instance, " We 
are about to narrate the blessed Resurrection. Let us first arrange the stage 
accordingly. Here the Cross, and there the Tomb. . . . Hell will be on this 


side ; the house upon the other ; then Heaven. . . . Caiaphas will take his 
place here, and with him the Jewish people ; next, Joseph of Arimathea. . . . 
In the fourth compartment will be seen Nicodemus. . . . We shall also repre- 
sent the town of Emmaus, in which Jesus Christ was entertained." 

In addition to these prologues addressed to the public by the author or by 
the "director of the play," we meet in some of the mysteries with short sermons 
in prose delivered by priests, who appeared upon the stage in their stoles to 
excite the devotion of the actors and audience. Sometimes even a high mass 
would be held just before the representation, as a preparation for witnessing 
a piece in which was to be given an episode in the life of our Lord (Fig. 
382) or the martyrdom of some saint. When these religious dramas were 
still played in the churches they generally terminated with a Te Deum or a 
Magnificat, sung by the principal actor when he reached the end of his part. 
As a rule, the play was not begun until all the actors who were to appear in 
it had " done the show," as it was called, either on foot, or on horseback, or 
in a carriage ; that is to say, had exhibited in the streets not only the costumes 
to be worn, but the engines or mechanical contrivances to be used on the 
stage. The representation once begun, the actors who were not required on 
the stage were compelled, in the intervals, to remain in view of the audience, 
seated upon benches placed at each side of the theatre, for the " slips " were 
not then invented to increase the optical illusion by favouring the entry or 
egress of the players. The unity of time was altogether disregarded, as well 
as the unity of place. Thus, for instance, in representing the history of 
Notre-Dame, a child of four or five years old would take the part of Mary in 
the beginning of the piece, and would be succeeded, as the play progressed, by 
another girl fifteen or sixteen years old, who would in her turn be suc- 
ceeded by a third person to represent Mary when married to Joseph, and the 
mother of Jesus. The result of this triple change was that the spectators had 
before them upon the benches three incarnations of one and the same person, 
each of a different age, appearance, and dress. 

It may be guessed that there was no great accuracy with regard to dress 
in these representations. The playwrights and actors, or dramatic poets, who 
represented the funeral of Julius Caesar with choristers bearing the crucifix 
and holy water, did not trouble themselves about historical and archaeological 
truth. But, excepting these primitive errors, it may safely be said that the 
theatre of the fifteenth century was little inferior, in point of splendour and 


magnificence, to the modern stage. There were some very quaint costumes 
assigned by tradition to certain parts. Thus the devils were always in black, 
and the angels in white, blue, and red ; while, as the priestly garment was 
looked upon as the most worthy of respect, God was always represented with 
cope and stole, and a bishop's mitre or a pope's tiara. The actors who had to 
represent the dead dressed " as souls ; " that is to say, they covered themselves 
with a veil white for the saved, red or black for the lost. In the Mistere du 
Vieux Testament, in which it was desired to represent the blood of Abel shed 
by Cain, the actor who had to represent this blood was wrapped in a large 
red cloak, and writhed at the feet of the murderer, crying, " Vengeance ! " 

The mysteries, some of which contained seventy or eighty thousand lines, 
would have taken several consecutive weeks to play through, so that, in order 
to give players and the public breathing-time, an interval of several days 
was given after each representation, and when the play was resumed the 
attendance was as numerous as at the beginning. As M. Louandre justly 
observes, " Could it be otherwise ? The public beheld in a living and 
animated form the world of the past and of the future, the Paradise of their 
first parents, and the Paradise in which they would one day contemplate their 
God. They looked at all this with the eyes of faith, and the influence of this 
sacred drama was not a triumph of art, but a miracle of belief. Of art, in 
fact, there were but a few flashes in these compositions, at once barbarous and 
artless, and in which were reflected the real and the fantastic world, sacred 
history and profane." 

The miracles, which contained, like the mysteries, so many touching and 
graceful passages, are filled with singular details, which the careful historian 
should on no account overlook. This simple-minded and confused accumula- 
tion of dissonant ideas did not exclude the shrewd humour which we find in 
all the French poems of the fifteenth century. It is a mistake, therefore, to 
say that the miracles contained neither satires on manners nor allusions to 
contemporary events, and numerous instances might be cited in contradiction. 
Thus, in the miracles composed and played in the reign of Charles VI., Queen 
Isabeau of Bavaria, and her brother-in-law, the Duke of Orleans, are severely 
assailed ; the court, too, is very roughly handled ; the military party is 
inveighed against ; and even the clergy do not always escape. In many 
parts of these popular pieces the noble inspiration of the poet bursts forlh 
beneath the coarse envelope of an as yet imperfect language. It will be 


to walk about the garden, playing innocently (honente delectantcs). The 
demons approach them, and show Eve the fruits of the tree of good and evil. 
The Devil then appears, and counsels Adam to pluck the forbidden fruit. 
Adam angrily repels him, and the Devil then addresses himself to Eve, who 
makes but a feeble resistance to his tempting. Adam compels the Devil to go 
away, but the latter is seen assuming the form of a serpent (a mechanical 
serpent, arfijiciose OOHipOttttU as it was called, appeared upon the stage), which 
crawls close to the tree of good and evil. Eve yields to the crafty advice of 
Satan, plucks the apple, and offers it to Adam, who, after refusing to take it, 
eventually eats part of it. He at once sees his fault, and hides in a bush, in 
order to take off his festal garments (solemnes vestcs) and assume a costume of 
leaves. Eve and himself, concealed in a corner of Paradise, are afraid to 
appear before God, who is seen walking arrayed in pontifical robes. He 
calls to Adam in Latin, "Adam, ubi es?" At length the two culprits 
appear, ashamed and repentant, mutually accusing one another. God drives 
them from Paradise, informing them of all the sorrows which await them cm 
earth. An angel, robed in white and waving a flaming sword, stations 
himself at the gate of Paradise. In the last scene Adam and Eve are 
laboriously tilling the ground and sowing corn, but during their sleep the 
Devil plants thorns and thistles among the wheat. When they awake and 
behold the Devil's work, they prostrate themselves in the dust, beat their 
breasts, and abandon themselves to despair. The Devil calls together the 
demons, who load Adam and Eve with chains, and drive them to the brink of 
hell, into which the two sinners are precipitated, amidst the laughter and 
yells which issue from the flaming abyss. This is the analysis of the first act, 
which forms a complete play of itself, and which embodies the three elements 
of tragedy, pantomime, and opera. 

The dramatic movement which took place in France in the twelfth century 
was not peculiar to that country. In the year 1110 the Norman poet 
Geoffrey had played at Dunstable, in Bedfordshire, the Miracle de St. 
Catherine, which was very much admired by the Anglo-Normans. Mention 
is made in a Chronicle of Frioul of the representation of a Latin mystery in 
1218. In Germany the Passion Play was given in the Cathedral of Vienna, 
and the Sepulchre of Our Lord in the heart of Bohemia about 1437. Long 
before this, Armorican Brittany had provided the faithful with a mystery 
written in the national dialect upon the Life of St. Nouns, which certain 

3 s 


critics hold to bo of earlier date than the twelfth century, and which is still 
represented in the country districts of Brittany. 

These dramas French, German, English, Italian, and Breton all com- 
posed in the same spirit of fervent piety, were produced at almost the same 
time in all countries, and in almost the same shape. They were conceived, 
written, and played by priests or by monks. But the laymen in course of 
time competed with the clergy for theatrical representations, and it may be 
said that the whole of Christendom then took part in the performance of 
the mysteries and the miracles. 

In most European countries, notably in France, from the twelfth century, 
each art or trade was organized as a religious association (confrerie) as soon as 
it had constituted itself into an industrial or trade corporation. Having their 
origin in local feeling and political emancipation, these associations were in 
many instances dramatic companies, enjoying the favour of the magistracy 
and clergy of the town. Moreover, all classes of the population were invited 
to take parts in the public representations of these great sacred dramas, in 
which as many as six hundred persons sometimes figured. The Church, so 
severe at first with regard to the secular theatre, relaxed her regulations in 
this respect, and encouraged those who took part, as actors or spectators, in 
these edifying spectacles, which revived the principal facts of Bible history, 
and popularised the triumph of the Christian religion. The municipalities, 
for their part, encouraged and remunerated the authors and the actors, and 
had numerous copies taken of these pious compositions, the official text of 
which was deposited in the archives of the town. 

As long as the mysteries and miracles preserved their exclusively liturgical 
character, the persons who figured in them as actors were not considered to 
exercise any special profession, but rather a sort of religious function. Thus, 
from the fourteenth century, the champions of the dogma of the Immaculate 
Conception, which had not as yet been proclaimed by the Church, formed 
dramatic associations for the purpose of propagating this dogma by playing 
the Mysteries of Our Lady, composed in honour of the Virgin Mary, who 
conceived without sin (Fig. 381). Amongst these confreres, all of whom 
wore the ecclesiastical dress as a symbol of their clerical origin, there were 
some who entitled themselves "Brothers of the Passion," and they soon 
established a permanent theatre in the village of St. Maur-des-Fosses, near 
Paris, in 1398. This theatre was almost at once closed by order of the 



Provost of Paris, doubtless at the request of the clergy of the capital, who 
complained that their parishioners neglected the Church services to go ami 
see the play of the Brothers of the Passion. But four years afterwards 
King Charles VI. accorded them letters patent, dated December 4th, 1402, 
and they were no longer interfered with in the exercise of their vocation. 
After having obtained, by these letters patent, permission to continue their 
plays and to show themselves, even in theatrical costume, in the streets of 
Paris, they obtained from the monks of the Trinity Hospital (in the Rue St . 
Denis, opposite the Rue Grenetat), a long low room, in which they opened 
the first permanent and covered theatre which was founded in Paris, and here 

Fig. 381. The Hermit forces Robert le Diable to declare his Identity. Miniature from the 
"Miracle de Nostre-Dame et de Robert le Dyable." Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century. 
In the National Library, Paris. 

they gave representations every Sunday and fete day from twelve to five in 
the afternoon. 

Long after this the mysteries and miracles continued to be represented 
in the provinces, the places selected being consecrated ground and graveyards. 
The Synodic Statutes of Orleans even show that the representation of scenic 
play stook place in the cathedral, probably in front of the portico, as late as 
1525 and 1587. The same was the case all over Europe up to the middle of 
the sixteenth century. Under the pontificate of Innocent VIII., about 1490, 
Lorenzo de' Medici, upon the occasion of the marriage of his daughter to a 

5 oo -' THE DRAMA. 

nephew of the Pope, himself composed a Mysfrry of St. John and St. Paul, 
which he had represented by several members of his family inside one of the 
Florence churches. 

The people of the Middle Ages, from the very fact that their existence 
was more monotonous than that of the people of the present day, were all the 
more ready to seize an opportunity for amusement, and the solemn representa- 
tions of the mysteries were amongst their most cherished enjoyments. The 
entrance of the King or Queen into a town, the birth of a prince or princess, the 
court festivals, as well as the ecclesiastical solemnities and the feasts of the 
Church, were an excuse for these popular spectacles. The representations, 
prepared a long time beforehand, were announced by the public crier, like 
the royal and municipal decrees, at the most frequented places of the town. The 
spectators, who had not to pay anything for witnessing the play, did not seat 
themselves promiscuously, but each person according to his rank and station. 
The nobles or dignitaries occupied platforms, upon which, as the representations 
lasted a long time, they sometimes had their meals served, like the old Romans 
upon the balconies of the amphitheatre or circus. The plain bourgeois and 
the lower classes occupied places, either seated or standing, upon the bare 
earth or the pavement, as the case might be, the men being to the right, and 
the women to the left, the same as in church. The local clergy, in order to 
let their congregations have an opportunity of witnessing the whole spectacle, 
advanced or put back the hour of divine service. In fact, the fondness of the 
public for these spectacles was so great that the houses were left almost 
deserted, and armed watchmen paced the silent streets to protect the property 
of the inhabitants while the representation was taking place. 

There were not as yet any permanent theatres in the towns, but the 
dimensions of the temporary theatres erected were regulated according to the 
number of actors who had to appear upon the stage. As a matter of course, 
when, as in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the only pieces represented 
were episodical dramas, such as the Miracles de Notre-Damc, these theatres 
were not nearly so large or so complicated as when there came to be repre- 
sented the great poems or mystery-plays of the Old Testament, the Passion, 
and the Acts of the Apostles. The theatre and the platforms used for these 
public representations, which often lasted several days, must have been of 
immense dimensions, and have entailed considerable expense. 

M. Charles Magnin, in his work upon theatrical archaeology, says, " The 


Miracle* df Notrc-Damc did not require more than two stories or stalls, the 
one raised above the other. The upper story represented Paradise, in which 
were seated upon a throne God and the Virgin, surrounded by their celestial 
court. The lower story was reserved for the human scenes, and divided by 
partitions and tapestry into as many chambers or compartments as there were 
different places to represent. The upper story (Heaven) communicated with 
the lower (Earth) by means of two spiral staircases placed at each side of the 
stage. It was by these that descended and reascended in procession God, 
the Virgin, and the Angels, when they manifested themselves to the inha- 
bitants of Earth. The floor of the theatre, the area, or, as it would now 
be called, the pit, was formed of the turf of a meadow or graveyard;" 
unless, that is to say, the town in which the representation was to take place 
possessed the remains of some ancient theatre, in which case it was utilised 
for the occasion. This indirect use of the pagan theatres for the religious 
plays of the Middle Ages took place all over Europe before the Brothers 
of the Passion and other similar associations had acquired permanent and 
covered buildings. In about the middle of the fifteenth century the per- 
manent and provisional theatres increased in size in proportion as the frame- 
work of the mystery-plays represented in them became enlarged. To the two 
primitive stories were superadded a number of compartments intended to 
represent in perspective, upon different planes and at different elevations, 
Heaven, Hell, the World, Jerusalem, Egypt, Rome, the house of St. Joseph, 
&c. The actors, while they were upon the stage, moved into one of these 
compartments, designated by placards or inscriptions, every time that the 
place in which the scene was laid changed, and, after having "done their 
play," they leisurely resumed their place upon the raised seats of the theatre. 
As far as can be judged by the few documents relating to this subject, 
there were two kinds of scenery; the one kind painted as in the present 
day, the other constructed of wood, or even stone, which had a regularly 
embossed surface. Moreover, as the spectators would often have experienced 
much difficulty in following the plot amidst the host of persons who appeared 
upon the stage, and the frequent change from one place to another, the author 
always offered in an explanatory prologue some general notices which enabled 
them to understand what was going on. He would say, for instance, " We 
are about to narrate the blessed Resurrection. Let us first arrange the stage 
accordingly. Here the Cross, and there the Tomb. . . . Hell will be on this 

S 02 ' THE DRAMA. 

side ; the house upon the other ; then Heaven. . . . Caiaphas will take his 
place here, and with him the Jewish people ; next, Joseph of Arimathea. . . . 
In the fourth compartment will be seen Nicodemus. . . . We shall also repre- 
sent the town of Emmaus, in which Jesus Christ was entertained." 

In addition to these prologues addressed to the public by the author or by 
the "director of the play," we meet in some of the mysteries with short sermons 
in prose delivered by priests, who appeared upon the stage in their stoles to 
excite the devotion of the actors and audience. Sometimes even a high mass 
would be held just before the representation, as a preparation for witnessing 
a piece in which was to be given an episode in the life of our Lord (Fig. 
382) or the martyrdom of some saint. When these religious dramas were 
still played in the churches they generally terminated with a Te Deum or a 
Magnificat, sung by the principal actor when he reached the end of his part. 
As a rule, the play was not begun until all the actors who were to appear in 
it had " done the show," as it was called, either on foot, or on horseback, or 
in a carriage ; that is to say, had exhibited in the streets not only the costumes 
to be worn, but the engines or mechanical contrivances to be used on the 
stage. The representation once begun, the actors who were not required on 
the stage were compelled, in the intervals, to remain in view of the audience, 
seated upon benches placed at each side of the theatre, for the " slips " were 
not then invented to increase the optical illusion by favouring the entry or 
egress of the players. The unity of time was altogether disregarded, as well 
as the unity of place. Thus, for instance, in representing the history of 
Notre- Dame, a child of four or five years old would take the part of Mary in 
the beginning of the piece, and would be succeeded, as the play progressed, by 
another girl fifteen or sixteen years old, who would in her turn be suc- 
ceeded by a third person to represent Mary when married to Joseph, and the 
mother of Jesus. The result of this triple change was that the spectators had 
before them upon the benches three incarnations of one and the same person, 
each of a different age, appearance, and dress. 

It may be guessed that there was no great accuracy with regard to dress 
in these representations. The playwrights and actors, or dramatic poets, who 
represented the funeral of Julius Caesar with choristers bearing the crucifix 
and holy water, did not trouble themselves about historical and archaeological 
truth. But, excepting these primitive errors, it may safely be said that the 
theatre of the fifteenth century was little inferior, in point of splendour and 



g g- 



.3 <3 


- u 


magnificence, to the modern stage. There were some very quaint costumes 
assigned by tradition to certain parts. Thus the devils were always in black, 
and the angels in white, blue, and red ; while, as the priestly garment was 
looked upon as the most worthy of respect, God was always represented with 
cope and stole, and a bishop's mitre or a pope's tiara. The actors who had to 
represent the dead dressed " as souls ; " that is to say, they covered themselves 
with a veil white for the saved, red or black for the lost. In the Misten iln 
Vieux Testament, in which it was desired to represent the blood of Abel shed 
by Cain, the actor who had to represent this blood was wrapped in a large 
red cloak, and writhed at the feet of the murderer, crying, " Vengeance ! " 

The mysteries, some of which contained seventy or eighty thousand lines, 
would have taken several consecutive weeks to play through, so that, in order 
to give players and the public breathing- time, an interval of several days 
was given after each representation, and when the play was resumed the 
attendance was as numerous as at the beginning. As M. Louandre justly 
observes, "Could it be otherwise? The public beheld in a living and 
animated form the world of the past and of the future, the Paradise of their 
first parents, and the Paradise in which they would one dav contemplate their 
God. They looked at all this with the eyes of faith, and the influence of this 
sacred drama was not a triumph of art, but a miracle of belief. Of art, in 
fact, there were but a few flashes in these compositions, at once barbarous and 
artless, and in which were reflected the real and the fantastic world, sacred 
history and profane." 

The miracles, which contained, like the mysteries, so many touching and 
graceful passages, are filled with singular details, which the careful historian 
should on no account overlook. This simple-minded and confused accumula- 
tion of dissonant ideas did not exclude the shrewd humour which we find in 
all the French poems of the fifteenth century. It is a mistake, therefore, to 
say that the miracles contained neither satires on manners nor allusions to 
contemporary events, and numerous instances might be cited in contradiction. 
Thus, in the miracles composed and played in the reign of Charles VI., Queen 
Isabeau of Bavaria, and her brother-in-law, the Duke of Orleans, are severely 
assailed ; the court, too, is very roughly handled ; the military party is 
inveighed against ; and even the clergy do not always escape. In many 
parts of these popular pieces the noble inspiration of the poet bursts forth 
beneath the coarse envelope of an as yet imperfect language. It will be 


sufficient to cite, as a model of sombre and tragic force, the following dialogue 
between Judas and the Demon : 

" LE HKMOJf . 

Meschant, que veulx-tu qu'on te fasse ? 
A quel port veulx-tu aborder ? 


Je in' sals. Je n'ai ceil en face 
Qui ose les Cieulx regarder. 


Si de mon nom veulx demander, 
Briefvemeut en auraa demonstrance. 


D'oii viens-tu ? 


Du parfond d'enfer. 

Quel eet ton nom ? 



Terribilite de vengeance! 
Horribilite de dangier ! 
Approche et me doune allegeance, 
Se mort peut mon deuil al!6gier. 

LE DliMllX. 

Oui, ti^s-bien." . . . 

In striking contrast with this grand scene between Judas and the Demon, 
we will quote a model of gracefulness and artlessness the Shepherd's scene 
in the great Mystery of the Passion, by the brothers Arnold Greban, a 
mystery far superior to that which Jehan Michel composed on the same 
subject : 

3 T 



Est-il liesse plus eerie (joie plus sereine) 
Que de regardor ces beaux champs 
Et ces doulx aignelets paissans, 
iSaultans a la belle praerie ? 


On parle de grand seignourie, 
D'avoir donjons, palais puiss.-ms ; 
Est-il liesse plus serie 
Que de regarder ces beaux champs, 
Et ces doulx aigneleta paissans, 
Saultans a la belle praerie ? 


En gardunt leurs brebiettes, 

Pasteurs ont bon temps : 
11s jouent de leurs musettes, 

Liez (joyeux) et esbatans ; 
La dient leurs chansonnettes, 
La sont les doulces bergerettes 

Qui vont bien chantans, 

Et belles fleurettes . . . 

Pasteurs ont bon temps ! " 

Nothing can be more touching than the scene from the Hyutere de 
St. Louis, in which Enguerrand de Couchy, the savage hunter, having 
surprised three youths shooting at his rabbits, hands them over without 
remorse to the executioner. The latter, with his assistant's help, at once 
hangs them to the gibbet, not, however, without manifesting a feeling of pity 
which forms the most striking contrast with the unflinching severity of his 
sinister profession : 


(Aprei que le premier a ete pendu.} 

. . . Helas ! que diront 
Nos nobles parens, quand sauront 
Nostre mort tres-dure et amere ? 


Je plains mon pere. 


Et moi, ma mere. 


i), au bourreau. 
Meshui ( present] depescho-lc, paillart ! 

(Le bourreau Itjttte, c'est-a-dire le pend.) 


Le voila depesche souduin. 
L'autre f 

Je le tiens par la main. 
II est tendre comme rosee, 
Le jeune enfant. 


Tay-toi ! Tay-toi ! 
A I'enfant : 

Mon amy, muntez apres moi, 
Et pens-z a Dieu ! " 

Thus all styles are to be found mixed up the one with the other in the 
great dramas of the Middle Ages, which are at once mystic and grotesque, 
sombre and joyous, trivial and solemn. Men, angels, earthly kings, and the 
King of kings pass in turn before the audience, and for several centuries 
all the theatrical compositions which appear by the side of the sacred are 
only, so to speak, detached chapters branches, to employ the term then in use. 

Tragedy did not exist in the Middle Ages, and it is a mistake to imagine 
that the Proven9al poets or troubadours, Arnaut Daniel, Anselme Faidit, and 
Berenger de Parasol were the principal factors of tragedy in the twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries. This form of dramatic composition did not assume 
definite shape until the middle of the sixteenth century, when Bai'f and 
Thomas Sibilet produced a few imitations of the Greek tragedies, and when 
Jodelle represented, in 1552, Cleopatra, which must be considered as the first 
French tragedy in verse. 

Comedy had already been in existence for a considerable period, for it 
may be said that the vein of comedy is essentially Gallic, and the nearer we 
come to the Renaissance, the faster does this vein expand itself upon our 
stage, which has continued to be without a rival in the way of tragedy as 
of comedy. In the thirteenth century, Adam de la Hale, nicknamed the 
Hunchback of Arras, produced the first French comedy, called the Jen de 
Manage d' Adam, or the Ji-u de la Fmiller, and the first comic opera, a sort 
of pastoral, entitled Le Jcit clc Rubin d </<> Marion, of which he composed the, 


words and music. These two ancient pieces, as well as the famous Farce 
de Pathelin (Figs. 383 and 384), which dates from the second half of the 
fifteenth century, and which long enjoyed a universal reputation, are in all 
respects very remarkable productions. If the author of the Farce do Pathelin 
were known, his name would rank beside that of Moliere. 

The comic pieces of the Middle Ages, which were called jeur, soties, or 
farces, are for the most part notable for their fund of humour and gaiety. 

Fig. 383. Pathelin taking the Piece of Cloth 
which he steals from the Draper. 

Fig. 384. Pathelin pleading for the Shepherd 
before the Judge. 

Fac-similes of Wood Engravings of the "Farce de Pathelin" (Gothic Edition, Paris, Germain 

Beneaut, 1490, in 4to). 

They may be considered, according to the taste of the present day, rather too 
broad, but we must make allowance for the time, as these crude expressions 
did not offend the taste of the age, and passed muster with the most polished 
court in Europe. The Moralites stand midway between the farces, of which 
they possess the satirical spirit, and the mysteries, of which they imitate to a 
certain extent the moral and religious tendencies. They were not more than 



a portrayal, sometimes even a criticism, upon the Church in it* human and 
temporal aspects ; canons, bishops, cardinals, and even popes are not spared, 
and the actor that is to say, the author shows no mercy in his condemnation 
of the vices and faults which he can discern in them. The moralite also 

Fig. 385. The Actor (Author) listening to the Personification of his Thought. Miniature from 
the " Chevalier delibfireV' by Olivier de la Marche. Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century 
(No. 173, B.L.). In the Arsenal Library, Paris. 

deals with the kings and temporal nobility, and, often assuming a political 
character, calls them to account for their public or private conduct. Some- 
times, again, a fact taken from the sacred books, or some idea occurring to the 

5 io THE DRAMA. 

poet, furnishes the theme for a sort of moralite which may be described as 
legendary. For instance, the Histoire de V Enfant Prodigue, the Laz d' Amour 
Divin, the Histoire de Ste. Suzanne, exemplaire de toutes femrnes sages et de 
tons les bons juges, are moralites in which religious mysticism is allied to 
the teachings of practical wisdom, and the characters in which Envy Reason, 
and Good Renown are introduced into the plot, like the Chorus of ancient 
tragedy, to control, judge, and appreciate the respective position of the 
personages in the drama, into which the author then introduces a sort of 
dialogue, or moral and allegorical poem, similar to the Chevalier deliMre of 
Olivier de la Marche (Fig. 385). 

The soties, farces, and moralites were never put upon the stage with 
the splendour of the mysteries, and save with a few exceptions, the number 

Fig. 386. Portrait of Clement llarot. Fac-simile of an Engraving by Leonard Gaultier, fiom 
the Series known as " Chronologic collee." In the Library of II. Ambroise Firmiu-Didot, 

of the personages introduced was always very small. Moreover, a capital 
difference is to be established between these two kinds of spectacle, viz. that 
the mysteries were represented, so to speak, by everybody and for everybody, 
under the patronage of the Church, whereas the farces, soties, and moralites 
were played for a special public by private companies of laymen, who were, no 
doubt, regular comedians. 

The jugglers and tale-tellers, who were many of them authors of satirical 
and amusing poems, which they went about reciting from place to place, to the 
accompaniment of the violin, might be regarded as the first actors of secular 
pieces ; for not only did they sojourn in the castles of the nobles to recite 
their poems, but they performed plays in character, which were in reality 
scenic romances and dialogues, such as the metrical tale, " Aucassin and 



Nicolctte." After the jugglers came various literary and dramatic associa- 
tions, some of them stationary in Paris or some large city, whilst others 
travelled through the provinces, who are only known to us by their theatrical 
Diiiiics, such as the Enfants sans Souci, the Bazochiens, the Enfants de la Mre 
Sotte, the Mere Folle de Dijon, &c. It has been said, but without sufficient 
authority, that the Chambers of Rhetoric, which also represented comic pieces, 
existed in Belgium and Flanders as early as the thirteenth century. What- 
ever may be the truth as to this assertion, it is certain that Antwerp possessed 
two Chambers of Rhetoric, and Ghent four ; and the theatrical taste of the 
Flemish and the Belgians was carried so far that their communal companies 

Fig. 387. Token of Pierre lo Dru, Printer of Gringore's Poetry at the Sign of the " Mere Sotte," 
near "the End of Nostre-Dame Bridge" (Paris, 1505). 

of archers and crossbow-men sought relaxation from their military exercises 
in dramatic entertainments, and eventually became regular comedians. 

The festivals of Christmas and Epiphany, the Carnival, and a few local 
solemnities were annually celebrated in Paris and in the principal French 
towns by burlesque representations, often degenerating into scandal, given by 
the Bazoche, which consisted of the law licentiates and all the young men 
belonging to the courts of justice. The Enfants de la Mere .Sotte and the 
Enfants sans Souci did not long form two separate and distinct troupes, and 
several of the best poets of the time amongst others, Franfois Villon and 
Clement Marot (Fig. 386) were actors in both of these troupes. Another 

5 iz THE DRAMA. 

excellent poet, Pierre Gringore, herald-at-arms to the Duke of Lorraine, was 
the principal author and the manager of the troupe named Enfants sans Souci, 
the members of which, recruited amongst the wealthy bourgeois families, had 
set up in opposition to the Brothers of the Passion. Gringore's theatre, 
established close to what are now the Paris markets, was in great vogue 
during the reign of Louis XII., and his representations generally took place 
during the Carnival. The pieces in his repertory, though interlarded with 
sharp hits at the higher clergy and the court of Rome, were for the most part 
somewhat severe upon the score of morality, for he had taken as his motto, 
"Raison partout, rien quo raison" (Reason everywhere, nothing but reason). 

The people had a keen liking for spectacles of every kind during the 
Middle Ages, and always turned out in crowds to witness the cavalcades, 
pomps, and processions which accompanied the tournaments, plenary courts, 
and feudal ceremonies. In a history of the theatre it is necessary, there- 
fore, to mention the plays in dumb-show, the allegories, and the pantomimes, 
which were principally represented upon the occasion of a royal visit, or of 
public rejoicings in celebration of some great local or political event. (See, in 
the volume on " Manners, Customs, and Dress," chapter on Ceremonial.) Then, 
again, there was the Dance of Death, known as the Dame Mucttbrr, which in 
the fifteenth century was one of the spectacles which produced the greatest 
effect upon the common people (Fig. 388). It is almost certain that at first 
this Datise Macabre was a sort of pantomime, a compound of music and 
singing ; and in 1424, the English, then masters of Paris, had it publicly 
performed in the Cemetery of the Innocents, to celebrate their victory at 

Another pantomime, but of a less lugubrious kind, was offered to the 
people of Paris in 1313, by order of Philippe le Bel, in honour of the recep- 
tion of his two sons into the Order of Chivalry. Godefroy de Paris, a 
rhyming chronicler of the time, describes it as follows : 

" Vit-on Dieu, sa Mere rire . . . 
Kostre Seigneur manger des pommes, . . . 
Et Its Anges au paradis . . . 
Et lea Ames dedans chanter . . . 
Enfcr y fut noir et puant, 
Diables y ot plus de cent." . . . 

In 1437, when Charles VII. entered Paris, a representation was given of 

////. DRAMA. 


the Combat of tin' .S'/w// Cn^itn! ,SY//.v nijaiii^t tin' Tin-*,' Tlfitlmjii-iil I'ii-tH' 
tin- J-'niir Curt/iiiii/ firfiifx. When Charles the Bold entered a town in the 
Netherlands a sort of tn/i/i-im rimut culled the Jitifi/iiiriit <>f I'urix was given 
in his honour. In the famous entcrfuiiiments at Rouen in 1550, in honour of 

Fig. 388. The Actor (Author), conducted by Fresh-Memory, is shown the Burial-places of the 
Chevaliers, Kings, and Emperors. Miniature from the " Chevalier delibeie." Manuscript of 
the Fifteenth Century (No. 173, B. L.). In the Arsenal Library. 

the entry of King Henry II., there were represented at the same time Faith 
and Virtue, Olympus and the Parliament of Normandy, the Muses, and all 
Kings of France from Pharamond's time. Thus all epochs and all kinds of 

3 u 

5 /4 THE DRAMA. 

belief were put under contribution by the inventors of pantomimes, so as to 
give more attraction and splendour to these spectacles, which were solely 
intended to gratify the eye. 

Up to the middle of the sixteenth century, the farces, soties, and moralites 
continued to attract the public, and the scenic tradition of the Middle Ages 
was still much the same as it had been two centuries previously. But in 1541 
the Paris Parliament forbade the actors who represented tin- Mi/xtv-y of flir 
Acts of the Apostles to open their theatre upon saints' days and Sundays, and 
even upon certain week-days. This was the origin of a hot dispute, in which 
the Provost of Paris and the King himself intervened, and which terminated, 
after, many delays and difficulties, by a definite authorisation granted to the 
actors, who took up their quarters at the Hotel de Bourgogne, in the Rue 
Francoise. The ancient privileges of the Brothers of the Passion were 
confirmed by a decree of the Parliament dated November 19th, 1548, upon 
the express condition that " for the future they shall play only secular, 
lawful, and decent subjects, and no longer introduce into their plays anything 
touching the mysteries or religion." The miracles, the mysteries, and the 
moralites were accordingly eliminated from their repertory. The Brothers 
of the Passion, who had the right to represent yrandes Mstoirea par peraonnages 
(narratives with the characters in them personated), such as the Destruction <if 
Troy the Great, by Jacques Millet (Fig. 389), abandoned their dramatic 
undertaking, and ceded their play-room and privileges to a troupe of regular 
actors who gave there representations of tragedy and comedy. The Hotel de 
Bourgogne, over the principal entrance to which was still retained a sculptured 
bas-relief with the instruments of Christ's Passion, became the cradle of the 
Theatre Francais. 

Thus exiled from the capital, the mysteries took refuge in the provinces, 
where they held possession of the stage, in some few towns, for the whole of 
the sixteenth century, competing for public favour with the buffoons and 
mountebanks who attended the fairs (Fig. 390). The farces and soties 
had also been proscribed. In 1516 the Bazochiens were forbidden by 
parliamentary decree, and by order of the Provost of Paris, to make any allu- 
sion to the royal family in the pieces which they represented. In 1536 they 
were forbidden to " exhibit spectacles or^writings taxing or noting (blaming 
or criticizing) anv person whatsoever." Two years later they were compelled 
to submit their pieces to the censorship of Parliament before putting them 


upon tin- slagi 1 ; and, as the satirical boldness of these pieces continued to 
increase, the clerks of the Bazoche who did not conform to this order wnv 
threatened with the gibbet. Such severities were necessarily fatal to tin- 
soties, and at about the end of the sixteenth century they disappeared 

These restrictions upon the liberty of the stage the establishment of 
dramatic censure, and the prohibition of pieces representing sacred subjects 
accelerated the disappearance of the ancient drama, and there then dawned a 

Fig. 389. The Abduction of Helen. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving from the " Istoire de 1" 
Destruction de Troye la Grant, mise par Personnaiges," by Master Jacques Millet (Paris, 
Jehan Driart, 1498, in folio, Goth.). In the Library of M. Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

new period in dramatic art all over Europe. By the side of the mysteries, 
which were still represented in Spain under the names of autos sacramentales, 
appeared the brilliant dramas of Calderon and Lope de Vega. Shakspeare 
at the same time appeared upon the English stage, and in Italy Machiavelli's 
Mandragora revealed a modern Aristophanes. At the court of Leo X. 
classic tragedy revived in Trissino's Sophonisba. In France, too, where there 
was a reawakening of the souvenirs of ancient Greece and Rome, Sibilet, 


Guillaume Bouchet, and Lazare de Bail translated Sophocles and Euripides ; 
Octavian de St. Gelais, Bonaventure des Periers, and Charles Estienne 
translated Terence into prose and verse ; and Eonsard had scarcely terminated 
his university studies when he translated into verse the Plutus of Aristophanes, 
and he and several of his fellow-students played at the Boncourt College, 
where he had been a student. This is a favourable opportunity for pointing 
out that with this new kind of dramatic pieces there appeared a new class of 
actors ; for the university students, under the direction of their teachers, 
played in the improvised theatres of their colleges, and were even admitted 
occasionally to play before the court. The same thing occurred in England, 
as is shown by a passage in Hamlet ; and there were university theatres in 
Germany, upon which were represented the Latin comedies of Reuchlin and 
Conrad Celtes, imitations of the Farce de Pathelin and other French soties. 

Tradition and imitation successively held the upper hand, and tragedy 
was at first, and for a considerable time, preferred far above comedy. The 
authors of the first classic tragedies Etienne, Jodelle, Jacques de la Taille, 
Charles Toustain, and Jacques Grevin minutely observed the traditions of the 
Greek drama, conforming themselves to the rules as to unity of time and 
place, interspersing the dialogues with lyric choruses, and resisting, so to 
speak, every kind of innovation, as from Robert Gamier (Fig. 391), who 
produced the first piece in 1573, down to Rotrou, who definitely marked the 
starting-point of modern tragedy, the ideas of the tragic poets are framed 
after the same pattern, just as their Alexandrines are cast in the same 
mould. For two centuries the French were all for tragedy, though the 
tragic writers, when inventing a subject of their own, did not limit them- 
selves to Greece and to Rome. Pierre Mathieu's Esther and Vashti, and 
P. Bardou's St. Jacques, remind one, so far as the subject is concerned, of the 
mysteries; but the composition and form of these pieces did not outstep 
the rules of rhetoric, and French tragedy not unfrequently introduced upon 
the stage, within the limit of these well-defined rules, French subjects and 
personages even while living, as, for instance, Joan of Arc, Coligny, the 
Guises, the League, &c. 

The old comic plays, which were cultivated with more or less success at the 
Hotel de Bourgogne by Pierre Leloyer, Remy Belleau, Honore d'TJrfe, Pierre 
Larivey, and others, developed into comedies, tragi-comedies, pastorals, fab/i* 
bocageres (fables of the gross), saui pkrisants tier is (waggish sayings). Some of 




the poets, too, who had succeeded at tragedies, also tried their hand at the 
less serious style. First of all they imitated Menander and Plautus, and 
in many cases produced works full of amusing situations and witty sayings, 
and with dialogues in verse remarkable for their ease, not less than for 
their animation and brilliancy. It must be allowed that the comedies of the 
sixteenth century are not less broad in their language than the Greek and 
Roman comedies ; but, as one of the best writers of the time, Pierre de Larivoy 
of Champagne, remarks in one of his prologues, "If any man should bo 
of opinion that there is an occasional departure from propriety, I beg him to 
remember that, in order to express correctly the fashions and tendencies 
of the present day, the acts and the words must be of corresponding wanton- 
ness." The authors of that period composed their comedies after the models 
which they had before their eyes, and in representing the corrupt morals of 

Fig. 391. Portrait of Robert Gamier. Fac-simile of an Engraving by Leonard Gaultier, from 
the Series called " Chronologie collee," in the Library of II. Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

their time they did not offend either the eyes or the ears of their audience. 
Besides, these pieces did not go nearly so far as the Italian comedies, such as 
the Abuses of the Sienna Academy, translated into French, and Ariosto's 
Supposes, also translated into French, and represented all over the country. 
The Italian comedy had also come into favour since the performance at Lyons 
of Bibiena's Calandm, which was represented there in 1548, before the court, 
by some Italian actors, whom Catherine de' Medicis had sent for. But the 
first Italian troupe which settled in Paris had been brought from Venice, in 
1577, by order of King Henry III., who allowed them to give their repre- 
sentations in the Hotel du Petit-Bourbon. This troupe became sedentary, 
and Italian comedy, the repertory of which surpassed in licentiousness and 
extravagance the farces of the old French drama, remained in existence in 
Paris, almost without interruption, to the close of the seventeenth century. 


The Oratorical Genius of the Gauls. The Origin of the French Bar. Christian Oratory in the 
First Centuries. Gallo-Roman Oratory. Preachers and Missionaries. Orators of the 
Crusade. St. Bernard and St. Dominic. Pleadings at the Bar under Louis XI. Political 
Oratory under Charles VI. Popular Preachers. Orators of the Reformation. Orators of the 
League. Parliamentary Harangues. Oratory in the States-General. Military Oratory. 

HE veneration in which all the great men of 
antiquity have held the gift of eloquence," 
says M. Louandre, of whose treatise, as in 
the previous chapter, we avail ourselves with 
reference to this subject, " the historical 
prestige attaching to the names of pagan 
orators, the victories gained by the generals 
who were able to address their soldiers, and 
the influence acquired by the demagogues 
who knew how to captivate the attention 
of the crowd, show that in the ancient 
- -' wor i,i ^ was no t merely literary renown, 
but a share in the direction of state affairs which resulted from the art de bi<>n 
dire" (the art of speaking). But, at the close of the first century of the 
Christian era, this marvellous art, which had reached so high a pitch of 
perfection in the flourishing periods of Athens and Rome, fell into complete 
decadence, and the three following centuries possessed nothing but turgid and 
insipid spouters. Rhetoric took the place of inspiration, and if oratory was 
still professed in the Greek and Roman schools, the pedantic mode of teaching 
produced only rhetoricians. Thus all that remains of that period is panegyrics 
and congratulatory harangues ; for the sole aim of these rhetoricians was to 
flatter the emperors and the great, obtain favour, and guard themselves 
against disgrace. Amongst them may be mentioned Claudius Mumertinus 


Major and Mamcrtinus Minor, Nazarius, Dropanius, and several Gauls from 

Eloquence had from the earliest period been held in great honour amongst 
the Gauls. The ancient Gauls paid worship to Hercules, of whom they had 
made the god of speech, and whom they represented in allegory as attacking 
men with golden chains issuing from his mouth. Thus the art of oratory was 
in their esteem the highest of all, and they were very fond of hearing good 
speeches. This will explain why the Emperor Claudius instituted at Lyons 
oratorical jousts, the defeated in which were compelled to efface with the 
tongue their unsuccessful speeches, under penalty of being cast into the 
Rhone. Juvenal and St. Jerome (Fig. 392) are agreed in recognising the 
natural talent of the Gallic race for speaking. In the principal towns of 
Gaul at Toulouse, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Troves, Besan9on, and Autun there 
existed public schools of oratory, which produced thousands of orators, or 
rather of rhetoricians, but which left no permanent record of civil or purely 
literary eloquence. The reason was that a new stamp of eloquence, such as 
paganism had never been able to inspire, was suddenly called into being with 
the Christian religion. The pagan rhetoricians were awed into silence, like 
the oracles of the false gods, at its first accents, and the pulpit of sacred 
oratory henceforward stood alone in the midst of the ancient Forum. 

For centuries the art of oratory had no annals in political life, and 
speaking, which held such a large place in the records of ancient history, 
does not occupy more than a few pages in the histories of the early ages of 
the French monarchy. Gregory of Tours, in his "History of the Francs," 
makes it sufficiently clear that the warriors of these barbarian times set more 
store by deeds than by words. King Clovis, when urging his warriors to 
undertake fresh conquests, merely said to them, "It pains me to see the 
Arians in possession of a part of Gaul. Let us march against them, with the 
aid of God, and after we have vanquished them let us reduce the country into 
our power." And the Franks forthwith prepared to undertake the campaign. 
Mummolus, Count of Auxerre, and patrician of the troops of King Gontran, 
said to the Saxons, who, after having devastated all the laud which they had 
overrun, were about to cross the Rhone to invade the kingdom of Sigebert, 
" You have depopulated the land of the King my master, carried off the crops 
and the cattle, delivered the houses to the flames, cut down the olive-trees, 
and rooted up the vines. You shall not set foot upon the other side of the 


stream until you have made compensation to those whom you have reduced to 
misery. If you refuse, the weight of my sword shall be felt by you, by your 
wives, and by your children, to avenge the wrong done to the King my 
master." This proud utterance is full of simplicity, but it no way resembles 
the allocutions addressed by the generals of Greece and of Rome to their 
soldiers allocutions of real eloquence, in which was united to beauty of 
diction the power of moving and carrying away popular feeling. 

In certain circumstances, however, the Gauls must have employed the 

Fig. 392. St. Jerome and two Cardinals. Miniature from the "Petit Traite de la Vanite drs 
Choses Mondaines." Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (No. 30, Sc. and A.). In th 
Arsenal Library, Paris. 

gift of speaking with success, but we possess no written record of their civil 
oratory. This oratory they undoubtedly employed in judicial pleadings, even 
at the time when the Germans and the Franks were established in Gaul. The 
Franks, who did not hesitate to assume the language, and even to imitate the 
customs, of the peoples whom they had subjected, found the Gallo-Roman bar 
in regular practice in the sixth century, and far from fettering an institution 
which, as has been ingeniously suggested by a modern historian, appeared to 


them like a mimic battle-field, they were the first to declare that the profes- 
sion of barrister was a noble one, and they soon sought to obtain admission to 
it, by asking to be given the title of advocate, or aimi^, to the churches and 
monasteries offices which compelled them not only to defend by force 
ecclesiastical territory and privileges, but also to protect them, when necessary, 
by word of mouth, at the pleas wherein were publicly debated questions at 
issue, in presence of the leudes, or of the richest and most influential freemen 
of the district. This is all we know on the subject, and even when we come 
down to Charlemagne's reign there is nothing extant except a few capitularies 
which regulate the administration of justice, but which make no allusion to 
the speeches of the barristers. In fact, the doings of the French bar (to use 
a modern term) are involved in complete obscurity until the reign of St. Louis, 
though we are told that the advocates of the Church were enjoined to be 
conversant with the law, to be gentle and peaceable, to fear God, and to love 
their country. 

This decadence was the natural consequence of the promulgation of the 
barbarian laws which took the place of the Roman Code. The accused had no 
need of an advocate when, in order to prove their innocence, they had to 
submit to the ordeal of fire, red-hot iron, or boiling oil. Speech was of no 
use in quarrels and disputes which were decided by duel. The best advocate 
was the man who could wield the sword with the greatest skill, and it was not 
until after the abolition of the duel and of the ordeals by fire that the bar 
resumed its normal existence. We must, therefore, look back through many 
centuries of barbarism, in order to behold the triumph of Christian eloquence 
in Europe (Fig. 393). 

It would be interesting to read the speeches and sermons of the first 
apostles of Christianity in the West, but they were not preserved until the 
end of the fourth century, when the edicts of Constantine enabled the 
Christian Church to raise its voice against the then expiring paganism. It is 
in this fourth century that is to be found the cradle of Christian eloquence, 
delivered in Greek by St. Athanasius, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Gregory of 
Nyssa, St. Epiphanius, St. Dionysius, St. John Chrysostom ; in Syriac by St. 
Ephrem ; and in Latin by St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome. " The 
sublime proportions of Christian oratory," says Villemain, " seem to increase 
as the other kinds fade away." And after citing the orators named above, 
he adds, " Their genius alone remains erect amidst the decay of the empire. 



They look like founders surrounded by ruins." Nothing could damp the 
zeal of these apostolic spirits, and Chrysostom has revealed In us the 
secret of their undaunted consistency and courage when he exclaims, in 


Fig. 393. Allegorical Composition, representing the different Degrees of University Teaching. 
Fac-similo of a Wood Engraving of 1 he " Margarita Philosophies " (Bale Edition, in 4lo, 


presence of the great whose vices he condemned, and of the princes whose 
power he braved, "All earthly terrors are contemptible in my sight, I 
disdain all worldly goods, and do not fear poverty; I do not desire riches, 


and I do not dread death ; I only wish to live in order to save your 

From its birth the Gallic Church was associated in this great work of 
oratorical proselytism. In the fourth century the preachers were already 
numerous, and their inspired word had an immense influence upon the faith- 
ful (Fig. 394). We can estimate the authority which the Catholic pulpit 
must have possessed when we read the Greek sermons ascribed to Eusebius, 
of Emesa in Syria sermons which are now said to have been delivered in 
Gaul. His oratory is of a very simple kind, and yet these primitive 
preachers, whose very names are unknown, had vividly in their minds the 
recollections of pagan literature when they related the spiritual combats of a 
saint, or the blood-stained struggles of a martyr. In one of these sermons 
upon the resurrection of Christ, God made man is compared to Antaeus, son 
of the Earth, and like that giant, whom mythology represents as struggling 
with Hercules, the Saviour is represented as only touching the ground, the 
better to triumph over Sin, the father of Death. In another sermon the 
preacher depicts Tartarus as in a state of consternation, and the black 
wardens of the obscure prisons as struck with dismay at the arrival of the 
Son of God, " who comes there to command, and not to suffer." 

These ancient sermons form, together with the legends of the saints, the 
most important part of the literature of the barbarous ages. From the fourth 
to the"" seventh century, in Roman Gaul, the Church had no lack of brilliant 
orators (Fig. 395). In the first rank stood St. Hilary of Poitiers, whom 
St. Jerome surnamed the " Rhone of eloquence," so rapid and majestic was 
his speech, and St. Martin of Tours, who was the most perfect model of 
Christian charity ; he who said to his congregation, which consisted of herds- 
men and shepherds, " See this sheep which has come back from the shearing. 
She has fulfilled the commands of the gospel ; she has given part of her 
garments to clothe the naked. Go ye and do likewise." And he set them 
an example by dividing his cloak, and giving half to a poor man who was 
shivering with cold. In the fifth century appeared St. Eucher, whose learn- 
ing was as great as his eloquence ; St. Paulinus, who has left us a magnificent 
sermon upon almsgiving ; St. Hilary, St. Mamertus, and St. Valerian, whose 
speeches are filled with the purest sentiments of Christianity, ardent love 
for his neighbour, and boundless charity. In the sixth century we have 
the famous St. Cassarius of Aries, who, while preaching the purest and most 

Fig. 394. Preaching of an Apostle of Christianity . After a Picture painted upon Wooil, attributed 
to Fra Angelico. In the late Collection of M. Quedeville, Paris. 


consolatory doctrines of morality, inveighed with, telling force of language 
against the heathen superstitions which were again raising their heads, and 
the heresies which were assailing the dogmas of the Christian faith. His 
utterances, full of unction and gentleness, are remarkable, even in his severest 
strictures upon the adversaries of the Church, for their kindness of tone, 
which was very well calculated to win souls to the Divine cause. He speaks 
of the most daring heretics as " stars fallen from the sky, which God may 
perchance recall to the firmament, and to which He may restore the primitive 
brightness of their twinkle." 

In the same century, St. Germain, Bishop of Auxerre ; St. Remi, Bishop 
of Rheims ; and St. Avit, Bishop of Vienne, occupy, with St. Csesarius, a 
prominent place in the history of religious oratory. Sidonius Apollinaris 
say's of St. Remi that he equalled, and even surpassed, every orator of his day. 
In the course of his episcopal career, which extended over seventy-two years, 
he had many opportunities of demonstrating the influence of his speech ; 
amongst others, when preaching upon the Passion before King Clovis and the 
Franks, who had not yet been baptized into the Church, he depicted the 
sufferings of our Lord with such pathetic force that Clovis, laying his hand to 
his sword, exclaimed, " Had but my Franks and I been there ! " 

Preaching, in the early ages of the Church, was the special attribute 
of the bishops. In some cases they would travel about the country, like the 
modern missionaries ; in others they remained stationary in their episcopal 
sees. Most of them preached two or three times a day. The sermon was 
delivered from the steps of the altar, except when it was preached in the 
graveyard, or from the church porch. Sometimes an animated conversation 
would take place between the preacher and his audience, and it would even 
happen that the new converts, whose savage passions could ill brook the 
severe injunctions of Christian morality, interrupted the sermon by their 
murmurs, and abruptly left the church. Upon one such occasion St. Hilary 
of Poitiers, seeing that his congregation prepared to withdraw in order not 
to hear his chiding voice, ordered the doors of the church to be shut, and 
said, in indignant tones, " You refuse to hear the Divine word now. But 
when you are in hell, do you suppose, miserable sinners, that you will be 
able to leave when you feel so disposed?" These words restored silence and 
order in the congregation. The religious eloquence, which had such a great 
hold over rebellious and depraved natures, owed scarcely anything to art, and 

Fig. 395. Pope Gregory I., surnamed Gregory the Great (540604), one of the most eloquent 
Christian Orators of the Sixth Century, sending Missionaries to convert England to Cliiin- 
tianity. Miniature from Manuscript of the Tenth Century, in the Cotton Library (Claudius, 
A III.). It is attributed to St. Dunatnn, who occupied the Frimatial Chair of Canterbury, 
founded by St. Gregory the Great. 


everything to the Divine inspirations of faith, to the nohle impulses of the 
human conscience, and, above all, to the ardour of Christian feeling. 

The invasions, which were continually letting loose a fresh torrent of 
barbarians into Gaul, the intestine struggles of conquerors and invaders, 
and the laborious transformation of pagan society had in nowise checked 
the impulse of Christian proselytism. It was then that Ireland, which had 
not long since received the Gospel revelation conveyed to that country by 
St. Patrick, in her turn supplied a noble band of missionaries who preached 
the Christian religion. Amongst them shone in the first rank (540 615), 
St. Columba, the founder of the Monastery of Luxeuil, whose utterances, 
bearing the impress of the most burning zeal, were marked by a vehemence 
of ideas which anticipated, so to speak, his words. In one of his sermons 
he exclaims, " Oh, fragile life ! Thou art the way, and not the life. Thou 
startest from sin to arrive at death. An arid road, long for some, short for 
others ; sometimes dreary, and sometimes pleasant, but alike rapid for all ; 
many follow thee, without asking whither thou leadest. Human life is a 
tiling to dread, and it is beset by dangers ; it passes like a bird, like a shadow, 
like an image, like nothing." One might imagine that Dante had this passage 
in his mind when he began to write his "Divine Comedy." These Irish 
missionaries made, especially in Northern Gaul, numerous disciples, who also 
devoted themselves to preaching the Gospel. They were to be met with 
everywhere, in the towns and the country districts, travelling from place to 
place on donkeys, preaching as they went, and stopping at the houses on the, 
road. The people humbly saluted them as they passed, the rich and the 
great esteemed it an honour to accord them hospitality, and even kings were 
proud to give a seat at table to these holy men, who, as a hagiographer has 
said, "placed beside the master of the house, and amidst the pleasures of the 
festive board, served also to the guests the wholesome food of the Divine 

Germany, like Gaul, was visited by these Catholic missionaries from 
Ireland. The most celebrated of them was St. Boniface (675 755), whom 
Michelet described as " a hero who crossed the Rhine, the Alps, and the sea 
so often that he was, as it were, the connecting link between nations. It was 
through him that the Franks came to an understanding with Rome and the 
other Germanic tribes. He it was who attached these nomad tribes to the soil 
by means of religion and civilisation, and unwittingly prepared the way for 



the armies of Charlemagne, as the missionaries of the sixteenth century 
opened America to the armies of Spain." 

Preaching was not the sole arena in which religious oratory had to do 
battle. The Councils, which were, so to speak, the guardians of the sacred 
deposit of orthodox faith, and to which the Middle Ages owe, even in the 

Fig. 396. Preaching of the first Missionary Apostles. After a Tapestry in Tournay Cathedral, 

made at Arras in 1402. 

civil order, the wisest of their laws these Councils, which have been so happily 
termed the Champs de Mai of the Church, offered to ecclesiastical speakers a 
vast field for the display of what ability they might possess. Whatever 
subject was laid before these illustrious assemblies was carefully studied, and 

3 Y 


often gave rise to eloquent debates. Unfortunately nothing is extant of these 
discussions except the text of the decrees which they had prepared. It seems 
that spoken utterances were less easily preserved in these periods of social 
renovation, for we possess but few records of religious oratory dating from 
Charlemagne's reign, though we know that such celebrated preachers as 
Alcuin, St. Anscaire, St. Agobard, lladbert, Hincmar, llaban Maurus, &c., 
must have delivered many sermons worth recording. But scholasticism was 
already in course of formation, and the spontaneous outbursts of the heart 
were kept under by the subtleties of the mind. The priest was lost in the 
rhetorician, and it needed the imperious force of circumstances to revive 
the ardour and enthusiasm of early times ; as, for instance, at the period of 
the Norman invasions, when the bishops preached a holy war against the 
Northern forces with a patriotic eloquence which has not been forgotten. 

This irresistible power of speech was all the more strange because, during 
the tenth century, which was justly called the "iron age of the Church," 
more than one clerk frankly admitted, when a holy book was shown to him, 
that he did not know how to read (ncscio literas). The year 1000, which 
was expected to bring with it the day of judgment, was drawing near, 
and all public and private contracts were dated from " the time near to the 
end of the world." The Christian preachers mourned, amidst the lamentations 
and sobs of the people, the coming death of the human race. In all the 
churches homilies were pronounced upon the Antichrist and the resurrection 
of the dead. When the dreaded epoch had passed by, religious fervour was 
again displayed, and out of gratitude to God new churches were built, in 
which the preachers announced the holy enterprise of the Crusades. 

It may be said that the Crusades created a new kind of religious eloquence, 
which filled the whole world during the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth 
centuries. This eloquence was represented by two different kinds of orators, 
both working to the same end, but by different means. There were the true 
apostles, full of faith and enthusiasm, who travelled all over Europe preaching 
the holy war against the infidels and the oppressors of Christianity in the 
East ; and there were the priests, and more especially the monks, who 
proclaimed, in the churches and in the cloisters, that the time had come for 
the clergy and the religious orders to abandon a life of contemplation, in 
order to form the great army of Christ, and go to Palestine to deliver his 
tomb by dispossessing the Saracens of Jerusalem. Religious eloquence never 


wielded a wider influence than then. The whole West answered to the appeal 
with one voice, " Dieu le volt ! " 

The two great orators of the first Crusade were Peter the Hermit and Pope 
Urban II. The former was the people's orator, for he traversed the land 
upon his mule, cross in hand, preaching, weeping, and beating his breast. 
It was Pope Urban II. who, at the Council of Clermont, brought to a climax 
the resolution in favour of the Crusade by the warmth of his utterances. As 
contemporary Chronicles have it, "Those who heard him preach believed 
that they heard the heavenly trumpet." His speech was answered with the 
unanimous shout, " Dieu le veut ! " Thus thousands of pilgrims started for 
the East with no other hope or thought save of obtaining remission for their 
sins and an eternal recompense. It was Christian eloquence, too, which, 
during the hardships of this distant expedition, sustained the courage of 
Godfrey de Bouillon and his companions. (See, in volume on " Military and 
Religious Life," the chapter on Crusades.) 

The second Crusade was resolved upon in 1146 at the assembly of Vezelay, 
which St. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, had convoked by order of Louis VII. 
Suger, the King's minister, had endeavoured to get the new Crusade adjourned 
in the interests of the State, but St. Bernard protested, in the name of the 
Church and of the national honour, that it was necessary to avenge the recent 
disasters of Christians. The eloquence of the Abbot of Clairvaux prevailed 
over that of St. Denis, and Suger was compelled to abandon his opposition to 
the popular movement. St. Bernard, inflamed by a holy zeal, at once set out 
to raise armies by the mere power of his word. Wherever he went the 
churches and the public places of assembly were not large enough to contain 
the excited crowds which pressed around him, and he then preached from 
rude platforms erected for the purpose in the middle of the fields. When he 
was addressing the clerks and doctors he spoke in Latin, only employing the 
vulgar or Romanic tongue to address the people ; and so great was the respect 
felt for him that when he preached at Mayence, Cologne, and Spires, his 
hearers, though they could not understand a word of what he said, were 
inflamed by the enthusiasm of his gestures, and flew to arms as eagerly aa 
the French crusaders. 

The same enthusiasm was reproduced a century later, when Foulques 
de Neuilly was authorised by Pope Innocent III. to preach the Crusade of 
1198. " When Foulques opened his mouth to preach," relates the chronicler 



Jacques de Vitry, who was himself an eminent preacher, " it was God who 
conferred upon him his persuasive accents. Those who had heard him 
struggled to get a piece from his garments, and he was compelled to have a 
new frock every day. He was obliged to provide himself with a stout stick, 
with which he kept off the crowd which would otherwise have suffocated 
him. They did not murmur at the wounds inflicted by the blows which he 
dealt them, and, in the ardour of their faith, they licked their own blood, as if 

Fig. 397. Portrait of Pope Honorius III. (12161227), who exhorted Louis VIII. to undertake 
the Crusade against the Alhigenses, and instituted in 1216 the Order of Dominican Friars. 
Fresco Painting upon Gold Ground in Mosaic, in the ancient Basilica of St. Paul-without-the- 
Walls, Home. 

it had been sanctified because made to flow by this man of God." Foulques 
had all the outspoken boldness of the popular preachers of the end of the 
fifteenth century, sparing no man in his criticisms and anathemas. One day, 
when preaching before Richard, King of England, he exclaimed, " I advise 
you, in the name of God, to marry as quickly as possible your three daughters, 
lest some evil befall you." " You are mistaken," rejoined the King ; " I have 



no daughters." " I tell you that you have three," said the preacher ; " they 
are Pride, Avarice, and Luxury." Whereupon, the King, addressing himself 
to the barons, said, " I give Pride to the Templars, Avarice to the Cistercian 
monks, and Luxury to my grand feudatories." "We need merely mention, 
after Foulques de Neuilly, of other doctors who preached the Crusade with 
no less success, Geoffrey of Bordeaux, Hildebert of Le Mans, Jean de 
Bellesme, Ame'dee of Lausanne, Eudes of Chateauroux, Geboin of Troyes, 
Jean de Nivelle, and Robert of Arbrissel. 

Fig. 398. Portrait of Gregory IX. (12271241), Ihe eloquent Defender of the RighU and 
Privileges of the Holy See. Fresco Painting upon Gold Ground in Mosaic, in the ancient 
Basilica of St. Paul-without-the-Walls, Rome. 

Sacred oratory, which in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries did wonders 
in the way of raising armies, almost instantaneously, for the Crusade, had to 
combat in those days the profane oratory of the heretics. These heretics 
seemed to derive encouragement from the brilliant triumphs of the orators of 
the Church. All rebellions and religious insurrections had their beginning 
in mischievous addresses, which had but too great influence upon weak and 


fanatical minds. Thus Pierre de Bruys ventured to deny the Eeal Presence, 
and condemned the custom of praying for the dead ; and Eon issued from the 
heart of Armorica, declaring that he had come to judge the quick and the 
dead. In other places we had the pitblicains of Flanders and Burgundy, who 
endeavoured to revive the monstrous doctrines of Manicheism, the Valdenses, 
and the Albigenses, dissenters half religious, half political, who, after having 
preached humility and renunciation of worldly goods, found more response 
among the lower classes by preaching the cessation of manual labour, the 
overthrow of ecclesiastical authority, and the community of goods. As each 
schismatic orator arose, he was at once opposed by an orthodox orator, who 
became the eloquent champion of the Church (Figs. 399 and 400). St. Bernard 
fought in the first rank, taking for his motto the maxim of Christian charity, 
"Let us persuade, but not constrain." He was supported by Pierre de 
Castelnau ; Cardinal d'Albano ; Jacques de Vitry ; Arnauld, Abbot of Clair- 
vaux; and William, Archdeacon of Paris. But the most eloquent of the 
Catholic orators was the Spaniard St. Dominic, founder of the order of 
Dominican Friars (Fig. 399). Dominic, who preached for ten years in the 
southern provinces of France, and who never showed any mercy to heresy, 
was one of the most heroic soldiers of the Church militant. His irresistible 
eloquence produced such a prodigious effect upon his contemporaries that 
the people believed that he was the direct exponent of the heavenly will. 
According to some, flames issued from his mouth when he spoke ; according 
to others, the church bells rang of themselves when he was about to preach ; 
and it was also affirmed that during one of his sermons a statue of the Virgin 
had been seen to lift out its arm, as if to threaten the hearers who did not 
hearken to his words. 

Nothing remains to us of these celebrated denunciations of heresy, nor of 
the sermons preached in favour of the Crusades ; they were all delivered 
extempore, and were never committed to writing. But we have a somewhat 
large number of those belonging to the theological and mystical school, and 
which were, therefore, carefully prepared beforehand. Here, again, we have 
St. Bernard, surrounded this time by Hugues and Richard de St. Victor, 
Abelard, and Maurice de Sully, Bishop of Paris (Fig. 400). With Abelard, 
notably in his Latin discourses to the " Virgins of the Paraclete," we have 
the dialectician always ready to call in the authority of philosophy in support 
of the authority of the Church. With St. Bernard, upon the other hand, we 



can always hear muttering, behind the long-drawn sighs of asceticism, the 
internal convulsions of the human soul. Metaphysics, psychology, a profound 
sentiment of the realities of earthly life, fiery denunciations of the indolence 


Fig. 399. The Glories of the Order of St. Dominic. Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving of the 
Fifteenth Century, from the " Meditationes," by Turrecremata (Rome, M. Oallu*. 1478, in 
folio). In the Library of M. Firmin-Didot, Paris. 

of the monks, and theological arguments, all are to be found in the magnificent 
sermons of St. Bernard. The sermons of Hugues and Richard de St. Victor, like 
those of Isaac, Abbot of St. fitoile, reflect in a more chaste style the warm aspira- 
tions of the piety of the cloister and the purest ecstasies of a contemplative life. 


Sacred oratory had attained its apogee in the sermons of the twelfth 
century (Fig. 401), from which time it hegan to suffer from the intrusion of 
scholasticism, of the formula, and of vague subtleties. "We may say that 
it already had begun its downward progress towards the decay into which 
it fell before the end of the thirteenth century. Numerous abuses, too, crept 
into the ecclesiastical system. Not only did certain simoniacal clerks make 
money of their sermons, but mere laymen vied with them in making a trade 
of preaching, and offered to take the place of the priests upon payment of a 
certain sum. Associations of preachers, having no religious character, were 
formed for the purpose of farming, so to speak, a parish, or even a diocese, 
undertaking to supply as many preachers as might be wanted. The Church 
would not countenance so scandalous a proceeding, but her most stremtous 
efforts were not always sufficient to prevent these acts of simony. Many 
priests and curates excused themselves for having allowed them upon the 
ground of their incapacity to preach themselves. Some talented preachers 
who had remained true to their mission, then conceived the idea of composing 
manuals, or grades, in which the priests could obtain the materials for com- 
posing their sermons. The most esteemed of these preachers' manuals were 
those of Humbert de Romans and Alain of Lille. 

While this decadence of pulpit oratory was taking place, the art of 
speaking, with regard to politics, jurisprudence, and scholastic teaching, had 
come under the favourable influences of the intellectual progress which, from 
the twelfth century, was universal in all spheres of civil society. History 
has not, unfortunately, preserved any written record of the efforts of 
eloquence which accompanied the establishment of communes, the drawing 
up of charters of franchise, or the reunion of local and general assemblies, at 
which were present the elected representatives of the nobility, clergy, and 
bourgeoisie ; in a word, all the struggles of an incipient liberty against the 
trammels of the feudal system. The oratory of the bar was doubtless still 
enveloped in the fetters of scholasticism, and the advocates of the first 
Parliaments are only known to us through the severe satires of which they 
were made the subjects. An eminent theologian, Pierre Le Chantre, 
reproaches them with having extorted money from both sides, with having 
betrayed the cause of the widow and the orphan, with having employed their 
talents in prolonging and multiplying suits, and inventing all manner of 
cavils to obscure the truth and prevent the triumph of right. Another 



theologian denounces their unbounded avarice, and indignantly declares that 
by their venality they have discredited a profession once so glorious. 

St. Louis endeavoured to reform the abuses of the bar; the Jews, hen-tic-, 
and excommunicated persons were all excluded ; and afterwards men of 
evil lives, and those who had been sentenced to punishments entailing the 
stamp of infamy, were expelled. The King himself arranged the rules as to 
pleadings, enjoining the advocates to expose their case with the utmost 

Fig. 400. Sacred Oratory, represented by a Bishop, a Doctor of Theology, and a Clerk. The 
Supplicant goes upon her Knees before them. After a Miniature from the " Petite Traictd de 
la Vanite des Choses Mondaines," composed in 1466. Manuscript of the period (No. 30, Sc 
and A). In the Arsenal Library, Paris. 

possible clearness and concision ; only to take honourable causes ; to be 
moderate and courteous towards their opponents, using no insulting language, 
not distorting the text of the decrees and customs, or making use of any false 
allegations, the whole under pain of being deprived of the title of advocate 
and the right of following their profession. This severe discipline, the 
tradition of which has been in part perpetuated to the present day, restored 

3 z 


a portion of its lustre to the French bar, amongst the members of which, at this 
epoch, may be cited Pierre de Fontaines ; Gui Foulques, or Fouquet, who 
afterwards entered holy orders and became Pope Clement IV. ; and Yves of 
Brittany, whose Christian virtues caused him to be placed amongst the 
number of saints, and whom the advocates adopted as their patron. The 
study of jurisprudence had certainly revived, but there was not the same 
revival in the art of oratory ; and the advocates, upon leaving the schools in 
which were taught dialectics, logic, and philosophy, lost themselves in endless 
discussions bristling with Latin quotations, and utterly devoid of method, 
simplicity, and true eloquence. 

The profession had nevertheless acquired great importance, owing to the 
reforms introduced by St. Louis into the judicial institutions. The bar of the 
fourteenth century can boast of having produced Pierre de Cugnieres, Arnaud 
de Corbie, Regnault d'Acy, and others who exercised an influence upon public 
affairs due in part to their oratorical talent. Jean de Meheye, for instance, 
distinguished himself by the way in which he discharged the functions of 
advocate-general in the trial of Philippe le Bel's unhappy minister, Enguer- 
rand de Marigny (1315) ; and Franfois Bertrand, selected in 1329 to defend 
the ecclesiastical jurisdictions against the encroachments of the nobility, 
acquitted himself of this task with so much zeal and discretion that the court 
of Rome rewarded him with the cardinal's hat. These great political trials 
awoke a general sentiment of curiosity. The imposing spectacle presented 
by a sitting of Parliament und